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 Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
5 from 3 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.

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

5 from 3 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
Keyword: black beluga lentils, couscous, instant pot
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.

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24 comments on Instant Pot Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad

  1. YQ

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and easy to make!! So grateful for the great recipes, making it extremely easy to transition to a healthier lifestyle.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Yay! So glad to be of help!

  2. Kelly

    5 stars
    This is delicious! I ate a ½ cup as a side and was so full!!! Is there any advise on calculating the nutritional value? Im counting calories. Thank you! Kelly

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Kelly, we don’t include nutrition facts on our recipes for a few reasons. If you’d like to read more as to why, you can do so at this link: https://rainbowplantlife.com/welcome/.

      Many of our readers use apps like MyFitnessPal to calculate nutrition facts for their own purposes. Hope that helped!

  3. Michaela

    5 stars
    Update for my last comment: its a very delicious salad. I mixed on some Arugula.

  4. Michaela

    i don’t have the Instant Pot, but a Dampfkochtopf/Schnellkochtopf (German Word for a pot which is nearly the same like the Instant Pot, but for using on the stove and without timer). So i tried and hoping for the best aaaaand hurray it worked. For all the people, having this Pots, you can make Nishas Instant Pot recipes with exactly the same time and steps.
    How it tastes? I don’t know😂 we will eat it later, but i will comment again. The smell is amazing!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great, Michaela! Thanks for the tips for your fellow readers :) We hope you loved the recipe!

  5. Katherine

    5 stars
    Hi, I’m just starting to pull together the ingredients to make this salad today. I’m wondering what additional steps might need to be taken if one is not using an instant pot? Can I just boil the lentils and couscous until done?? Thank you!!

  6. Wendy Dunnett

    How can this be adapted for people who don’t have an instant pot?

    1. Nisha

      Hi Wendy,

      You’ll need to cook the various components separately, so unfortunately it won’t be as quick as using the Instant Pot. For the couscous, you can toast it in a sauté pan in a little olive oil for a few minutes, then cover with veggie broth (about 1.5 cups liquid for 1 cup couscous) and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the grains are al dente and liquid is absorbed.

      For the lentils, you don’t need to soak them. Cook them in a saucepan: bring some water to a boil, add the lentils, season with salt/pepper, the bay leaves, and thyme sprigs; reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente, 20-25 minutes. Drain the liquid.

      For the onions/carrots/bell peppers and garlic, saute them in a bit of olive oil in a frying pan with salt/pepper until softened.

      To assemble, allow the couscous/lentils/sauteed veggies to cool to room temperature, and follow step 7 in the recipe card.

    2. Nicole

      5 stars
      This recipe is SO delicious! I made with red lentils instead and it tasted like cheesy mashed potatoes. Just without dairy or potatoes and much more healthy >.<

      1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Thanks for the positive review, Nicole!

  7. Sara M

    5 stars
    My husband’s getting seconds after giving this dish his highest praise: “Yum, foodskis!” I increased the red wine vinegar and olives for a bit more kick, and beheaded the dill and parsley plants in my garden, but still didn’t have nearly enough. It still tasted like Spring!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Sara!

    2. Kelly

      Is the couscous already cooked when you place it in the instapot?

  8. Sharon Cicchetti

    Any Nutritional information for this recipe?

  9. KDub

    5 stars
    Made the Israeli Couscous with lentils. Delicious! Easy! Fast! = Will make again regularly.

    Had arugula so substituted that for the herbs.

  10. Shuvya

    I love recipes like these – easy, healthy, and super flavorful!

  11. emily smith

    This is the first thing I made in my new Instant pot and WOW. Simply delicious and flavorful.

  12. Gabrielle

    Loved this recipe so much!! Something about the red wine vinaigrette, dill, and olives was so unique and tasty. Will be making this… a lot!

  13. Carolyn

    Can I use quinoa instead of couscous for a GF option?

  14. DaniG

    I made this! I used orzo instead of couscous bc it’s what I had. I also used only one red pepper and half of the recommended dill and parsley. I really liked this dish but i wasn’t over the moon like i have been about some of Nisha’s other recipes. It was surprisingly more subtle than i thought it’d be (perhaps bc i pulled back in the herbs) and i felt it needed a firmer perhaps crunchy texture. I had this for dinner and while it was more than filling, especially with a side of baguette, I think I’ll enjoy it more as a lunch or side dish. I’m not sure I’d make it again but really happy i gave it a try.

  15. Nina

    This was delicious! We will be making this on a regular basis.

    1. Eleni Kelly

      5 stars
      Made this just now. Even more delicious than expected! It is colorful, full of fiber and relatively easy to make. This is a keeper!

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