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, beans and rice every week gets boring. I’m always looking for new versions I can try.
That’s why I bought a pound of French lentils du Puy when I saw it at my local health foods market. I wanted to try a French-style lentil stew with a leek mirepoix, and I have the new Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker to test, et voila. 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.Print
Pressure Cooker French Green Lentils (Lentils du Puy)
- 1 pound French green lentils (lentils du Puy)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 leek, cleaned, green parts removed, and sliced thin (or a medium onion)
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 celery stalk, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (or dried thyme)
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 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.
- Saute the aromatics and toast the spices: Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker pot over medium heat until the butter stops foaming (Sauté mode in an electric pressure cooker). Add the leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and the herbes de Provence. Sauté until the leeks soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Cook the lentils: Stir in the lentils, 6 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen any bits of onion that stuck to the pot. Lock the pressure cooker lid. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes in an electric pressure cooker, 8 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker, with a natural pressure release, about 20 minutes more. (if you are in a hurry, quick release the remaining pressure after 20 minutes.)
- Taste for seasoning and serve: Open the pressure cooker lid (away from you – the steam is hot). Stir in the pepper, then taste for seasoning – the lentils will need more salt. Add the salt, tasting as you go, until the flavor goes from washed out to full-bodied. (I usually add another teaspoon of fine sea salt.) Serve and enjoy!
- Regular lentils: If you can’t find French green lentils, use regular (brown) lentils.
- Vegan version: replace the butter with more olive oil.
- Non-Vegetarian: For an authentic French version of the recipe, substitute chicken stock for about half the water. (Preferably homemade chicken stock.)
- 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 this from Alton Brown’s Pantry Raid 6: Lentils show. Actually…a lot of what I know about cooking is from Alton Brown.)
- So, if you find French green lentils, they are the same lentil – but they weren’t grown in Le Puy-en-Velay.
- This recipe makes fantastic leftovers. I freeze it in 2 cup containers, and I have grab-and-go lunch that takes five minutes in the microwave to be ready.
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.
Mark Bittman Soupy Dal, American Style [nytimes.com]
Lorna Sass Pressure Perfect
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