Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad

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This Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad is an easy dump-and-go Instant Pot recipe that’s a light, healthy vegan recipe perfect for summer. Featuring French green lentils, pearl couscous, and a zingy vinaigrette with lots of fresh herbs.
Prep 1 hr
Cook 15 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
4.8 from 25 votes

This Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad is an easy dump-and-go Instant Pot recipe that’s perfect for al fresco dining, picnics, barbecues, and even meal prep.

This recipe is from my cookbook,The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook. You can find it on page 115 in the “Satisfying Sides” chapter. For more dishes featuring lentils, be sure to check out my round-up of must-make lentil recipes.

To see how it’s made in detail, check out the video below! This recipe starts at the 00:25 second mark.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Dump and go recipe. This recipe couldn’t be easier. Just dump a handful of ingredients into the Instant Pot, pressure cook for just 3 minutes, and once the mixture is cooled, toss in some salad ingredients. A complete, balanced meal made in the Instant Pot without any hands-on cooking.

Light yet hearty. This recipe is light enough for a side dish (also great for a light lunch, al fresco style), but thanks to protein-packed lentils, is hearty enough to stand in as a main dish.

Meal prep AND picnic friendly. This salad stays great in the fridge for many days, and considering it has a grain, a protein, and lots of veggies, it’s a great option for healthy meal prep. But, it’s also such a fun and easy option to bring to a picnic, potluck, or barbecue.

Weeknight friendly. Since this is a dump-and-go recipe, it’s a great option for busy weeknights.

Healthy but flavorful. This recipe is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and made with wholesome ingredients. But it’s anything but boring! It features refreshing and grassy flavors from a generous amount of fresh dill and has a tangy red wine vinaigrette that brings the salad all together.

Instant Pot Israeli Couscous and Lentil Salad

Ingredient Spotlight

Couscous and Lentils

Pearl/Israeli Couscous. I’ve never been a fan of regular couscous (it feels like a tastier version of sand to me), but pearl couscous…I am a hug fan! The texture is bouncy and chewy, and overall delightful. It takes just 3 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot!

French Green Lentils. My favorite lentil! typically, they take 6-8 minutes to cook int he Instant Pot, so to ensure they can get fully cooked with the couscous in the same 3-minute time frame, I soak the lentils ahead of time.

Note: In the recipe in my cookbook, I mention you should soak the lentils for 8 hours before using them, but I’ve found that soaking for just 1-2 hours is sufficient.

Bell peppers, carrots, onions, and garlic. Lots of veggies in this recipe, but you can easily substitute your favorites – just be sure to dice them up.

Salad ingredients

Be sure to let the couscous mixture come to room temperature before adding the “salad” components so it feels more like a salad, and not a hot grain lentil dish.

Fresh dill and parsley. I am particularly fond of the dill in this recipe. It brings this grassy, slightly anise-like flavor to the recipe and just screams summer!

Green olives. The olives bring a nice salty bite here and pack a lot of flavor into this recipe. My favorite olive is the Castelvetrano olive (buttery, smooth, not too salty), and I highly recommend it here. If you really hate olives, I recommend subbing with sundried tomatoes or capers.

Red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The vinaigrette is incredibly simple – just red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Since the vinaigrette is so simple, use the best-quality vinegar and oil you have because their flavors will be fairly prominent.

Instant Pot Israeli Couscous and Lentil Salad

Tips for making this recipe

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the couscous-lentil mixture into a serving bowl. This will avoid some of the excess liquid leftover from cooking. If you add the extra liquid, your salad will be soggy.

Let the couscous-lentil mixture come to room temperature. If you add the salad ingredients to the hot mixture, it won’t feel like a salad (it will feel more like a hot lentil stew).

Instant Pot Israeli Couscous and Lentil Salad

If you give this Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad

4.8 from 25 votes
This Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad is an easy dump-and-go Instant Pot recipe that’s a light, healthy vegan recipe perfect for summer. Featuring French green lentils, pearl couscous, and a zingy vinaigrette with lots of fresh herbs.
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 as main or 8 as a side dish

Ingredients

Couscous and Lentils

  • 1 cup French green Puy lentils, soaked for 1-2 hours*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pearl or Israeli couscous
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

To Finish

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch of fresh dill (about 1 cup), finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh Italian-flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15 pitted green olives, sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Soak the lentils in water to cover for 1-2 hours. Drain the lentils.
  • Place the soaked and drained lentils, onions, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, couscous, vegetable broth, salt, pepper to taste, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs in the Instant Pot and stir well to combine.
  • Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure and set the cook time to 3 minutes.
  • Once the 3-minute timer has completed and beeps, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then switch the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam.
  • Open the pot and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  • Transfer the couscous-lentil mixture to a large bowl and allow to come to room temperature.
  • To the couscous-lentil mixture, add the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, dill, parsley, olives, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed, or a splash more vinegar for acidity.

Notes

* In the recipe in my cookbook, I mention you should soak the lentils for 8 hours before using them, but I’ve found that soaking for just 1-2 hours is sufficient. The soaking step is necessary to soften them up, as they get cooked for just 3 minutes in the Instant Pot, which is the ideal cook time for pearl couscous.

Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 763mg | Potassium: 1163mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 8910IU | Vitamin C: 131mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 7mg

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54 comments on Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad

  1. Karishma

    1 star
    I love all your recipes. Your vegan red lentil curry is my absolute favorite. Unfortunately this recipe missed the mark for me. I followed the recipe exactly as written and it turned out soupy and the couscous was mushy. Ill try again but cook the couscous and the lentils separately on the stove. I really wanted to love this.

  2. Karen Dix

    I followed this recipie to a T and it was definitely soupy when I took it out of the instant pot. Should the water be decreased? I am in WA state so there is no weird altitude change from San Diego. I cooled in the fridge and added the other ingredients. The flavors are wonderful but the texture was off. Help please!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “Hi there Karen, sorry to hear it! I would thoroughly drain the couscous and lentils in a colander before mixing with them with the salad ingredients. You can also try using 1/4 cup less liquid, but I don’t know much less liquid you can use without triggering the instant pot burn notice (it’s pesky and sensitive!).”

  3. Teresa

    5 stars
    Oh my… so yummy! I could not wait until this cooled because each bite was so delicious. I promise to eat the leftovers tomorrow chilled!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Teresa, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  4. Anna

    Tried and loved several of your recipes, this one however was disappointing. I had the same problem as River And Giselle. It was very soupy, after following the recipe exactly. Could it be due to cooking in the instant pot at a higher altitude? We are at 3500 ft.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Good to hear you enjoyed the recipes, Anna! And that could potentially be it, we found this article online that says “The formula for success when using your electric pressure cooker is to increase pressurized cook time by 5% for every 1000 feet above 2000 feet elevation.”

  5. Brixie

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! My husband has celiac, so I substituted sorghum (a gluten free grain) for couscous. It has a very similar taste and shape.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great to hear you two enjoyed the recipe, Brixie!

  6. Cathy

    How long should you cook it for if you don’t have an instant pot please?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Cathy, we aren’t sure because we haven’t tried this ourselves, but it seems lentils take more time to cook than couscous (15 mins vs 20-30 mins). So Cook the lentils for 10 or so minutes before adding in the couscous. Good luck!

  7. Rebecca

    5 stars
    This looks yummy! Can you please tell me how many this serves?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Rebecca, so glad you think so! It serves 4 as a main or 8 as a side dish. Enjoy!

  8. Jo

    If I do this without an instant pot would the lentils and cous cous still go on the pit at the same time?
    Thank you
    Jo

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jo, couscous takes about 15 minutes to cook while green lentils take 20-30, so we suggest adding them in at about the 10-15 minute mark.

  9. Liz

    Can I use quinoa instead of couscous?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Liz, we haven’t tried that ourselves but we think it would work!

  10. River

    This came out way too soupy out of the instant pot. What could have went wrong?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi River, did you add both the drained lentils and couscous? And did you make sure the pressure cook setting was at high pressure and allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes?

    2. Giselle

      I had the exact same problem as River. I did everything exactly as per the recipe. I did a quick soak of the lentils (boiled for 1 minute and then let them sit in hot water for an hour.) The dish came out like soup, not firm enough for a salad. I am currently draining it to see if it will firm up, but the pearled couscous seems overcooked. Unless a miracle happens while it cools, it will have to be thrown out. :(

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