Pressure Cooker French Lentils
Here is another recipe from my tests of the Kuhn Rikon Family Style 12 quart pressure cooker.
Beans and rice are one of the few vegetarian combinations that fill me up. Most vegetarian meals leave me thinking “that tasted great – where’s the rest of dinner?” I don’t have that reaction when the meal has beans; they’re hearty enough to fill me up. But, eating lentils every two or three weeks gets a little repetitive. I’m always looking for variations on beans and rice.
*If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’re probably amazed that someone who posts as many meat recipes as I do eats vegetarian once a week. I’m trying to do what I can to help our planet by eating lower on the food chain. Will I ever become a full time vegetarian? Um…no. But I wouldn’t mind working up to two vegetarian meals a week.
I wanted to try my lentil stew using French lentils du Puy and a leek mirepoix for flavor. I wanted to test the pressure cooker from Kuhn Rikon. I combined them into a test of lentils in the pressure cooker.
*I love it when a plan comes together.
The pressure cooker gives me a noticeably faster cooking time, even with the natural pressure release that I like to use with beans. The lentils are done pressure cooking in about 20 minutes, instead of the 35 to 45 minutes of simmering that they usually take. That extra fifteen minutes can be the difference between my getting dinner on the table on a busy weeknight, and succumbing to the temptation of fast food.
*Darn you, Swensons! Why do your french fries have to taste so good?
And the results? Creamy lentils in a savory broth, done in 30 minutes end to end; the pressure cooker worked its magic once again.
*Don’t have a pressure cooker? Check out my Lentil stew recipe.
Inspired by: Mark Bittman Soupy Dal, American Style
- Pressure cooker, at least 6 quarts (like my giant Kuhn Rikon 12-quart pressure cooker)
- 1 lb lentils du Puy (french lentils)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 leek, cleaned and sliced thin (or substitute a medium onion)
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 celery stalk, diced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Herbes De Provence (or substitute a sprig of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp thyme and a bay leaf)
- 7 cups liquid (preferably 4 cups homemade chicken stock + 3 cups water, or use 7 cups of water)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse the lentils: Put the lentils du Puy in a strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Let stand to drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
2. Saute the aromatics and toast the spices: Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker over medium heat, until the butter has stopped foaming. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt to the pressure cooker. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and herbes de provence, and saute for one minute.
|Yes, that’s a frozen block of homemade stock|
3. Cook the lentils: Put the lentils, chicken stock, water, and teaspoon of kosher salt into the pressure cooker and stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, increase the heat to high, and bring the cooker up to pressure. (Check your pressure cooker manual for how to do this). Reduce the heat to maintain the pressure, and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, and let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure at that point. Unlock and remove the lid. Taste the lentils for doneness and seasoning. If the lentils aren’t soft enough, simmer for another five minutes or so (don’t bring back to pressure – just simmer on the stovetop). Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.
|My stock picture of the PC at high pressure.|
4. Serve: Serve the lentils as a side dish, or as a main course with basic white rice.
*Brown lentils: If you can’t find lentils du Puy, substitute regular (brown) lentils. Reduce the cooking time under pressure to 6 minutes.
*Vegetarian: Yes, I know that chicken stock isn’t vegetarian. But I always have some on hand, and I like the depth of flavor it adds to the lentils. I’m working on my pressure cooker vegetarian stock. If you want a truly vegetarian meal, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock or water. For vegan, skip the butter and add more olive oil.
*Lentils du Puy were the first vegetables to be certified with the French Controlled Designation of Origin (AOC) status. This means they must be grown in Le Puy-en-Velay to be called lentils du Puy.
*If you’re a wine nut like I am, you know of AOCs from their definition of the major wine regions of France – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cote du Rhone, and so on. I was amazed that lentils were the first vegetable to be protected by an AOC.
**I learned about this from Alton Brown, who brought it up in his Pantry Raid 6: Lentils episode.
*This recipe makes good leftovers. I freeze it in 2 cup containers, so I can have a bowl of lentil stew for lunch after five minutes of microwaving.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Suggestions for Meatless Monday meals that won’t leave me hungry? Leave them in the comments section below.
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