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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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
- 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
- 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.