My hugely popular very veggie lentil bake, adapted to be cooked in the Instant Pot! Even easier than the original.
Food blogging is a funny thing - sometimes I'll publish a recipe that I think is incredible, but you guys don't really seem that blown away by it. Other times, I'll publish something that you go unexpectedly crazy for! My very veggie lentil bake was definitely one of those recipes. It's been viewed over 400,000 times, and literally every day I get an email, a message or a comment from someone telling me how much they enjoyed it - it makes me so, so happy! I knew it was a yummy recipe, but I didn't know lentils could get people so excited.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I gave in and bought myself an Instant Pot - and I decided my very veggie lentil bake should be the first thing I use it for. A few little tweaks, and the recipe is good to go!
What is an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot has been a must-have gadget for the past couple of years, but just in case you've missed all the hype, I'll give you a quick run down.
It's basically an automatic electric pressure cooker. You add your ingredients, program it to cook for a set amount of time, and then just leave it to do its thing. It generally takes 10 minutes or so to reach pressure, but once that's happened, it cooks things super quickly - almost everything I've made in it has cooked in 10-20 minutes, even things that I would usually bake or simmer on the hob for a full hour. So it's not quite 'instant'... but it's pretty quick.
After your food is cooked, you just release the pressure, and it's ready!
Very veggie lentil bake in the Instant Pot
My very veggie lentil bake is one of my favourite dinners - it's got a cheesy mixture of lentils, rice, and tons of veggies - all my favourites in one satisfying meal.
The original recipe requires the lentils and rice to be cooked up together in a pan, and you also need to fry off the veggies separately. Then you mix everything together, and transfer to a baking dish to stick in the oven. It's an awesome recipe, but it does require a bit of effort - there are a few different steps to it.
With this Instant Pot version, you don't need to do any of that. You obviously still need to chop a few veggies and grate some cheese, but that's 100% of the prep - just add some veggie stock to help it all cook together, and you can go and relax while it cooks everything for you.
How long does it take to cook?
The original recipe takes the best part of an hour to make, about half of which is hands-on prep time.
This Instant Pot version takes just ten minutes to prepare, then 20 minutes to cook (plus an extra ten minutes or so for the Instant Pot to come to pressure).
It may not seem like a huge time saving, but in terms of hands-on time, it's much quicker to use the Instant Pot.
My favourite thing about having an Instant Pot is that it encourages me to make healthy dinners from scratch more often. Usually, if I only have the energy to spend 10 minutes cooking dinner (i.e. almost every day of the week), I'll resort to opening packets of processed food, and will just throw something in the oven. But with the Instant Pot, you can spend just a few minutes chopping vegetables, and in no time you'll have a freshly cooked, healthy meal - no need to stand over the stove while it cooks.
Are there any disadvantages to using the Instant Pot?
The only disadvantage to this Instant Pot version of my lentil bake is that the cheesy topping doesn't crisp up. It does all melt down and gives a nice cheesy layer, but it's not a crispy one. In my opinion, this minor disadvantage is well worth the time and effort you save by using the Instant Pot - I'll definitely be making this version from now on! Crispy cheese is worth a lot... but it's not worth an extra half an hour in the kitchen.
What veggies can I use in my very veggie lentil bake?
I can never follow a recipe to the letter, even when it's my own, so when I adapted my lentil bake for the Instant Pot, I did make a few minor changes to the original recipe. I added some diced carrot, for example, as I knew a hard vegetable like carrot would hold up well to being pressure cooked. I also grated the courgette (zucchini) instead of dicing it, so it melts right into the lentils as it cooks, keeping everything nice and moist.
Feel free to switch up the veggies if you like, but remember that not all vegetables are going to be tasty when they're pressure cooked - I imagine broccoli, for example, would turn to mush, so you might want to avoid that one!
How should I serve my lentil bake?
I love to serve my very veggie lentil bake with garlic bread - the crunchy bread is amazing at scooping up the soft lentils, and who doesn't love a bit of extra garlic in their life? There are already plenty of veggies in the bake itself (it's kind of in the name...), but you can serve a bit of salad on the side too if you're feeling virtuous.
Then just dig in! I promise you'll love it.
Instant Pot very veggie lentil bake
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- 250 g (~ 1 ⅛ cup) red lentils
- 100 g (~ ⅓ cup) white rice
- 1 medium courgette (zucchini), grated
- 1 small leek, or ½ large leek, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced fairly small
- 5 medium mushrooms, diced
- 200 g cheddar cheese, grated (~ 2 cups when grated)
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Black pepper
- 850 ml (~ 3 ½ cups) vegetable stock
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of the Instant Pot, just holding back about a third of the cheese. Mix thoroughly, and scrape down the sides so that everything is just submerged in the liquid. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
- Place the bowl into the Instant Pot, and close the lid. Make sure the valve is set to 'sealing'. Set the Instant Pot to 'pressure cook' - high pressure, normal mode. Set the Instant Pot to cook for 20 minutes (it will also take an additional 10 minutes or so to come to pressure), and leave it to cook.
- When the Instant Pot has finished cooking, carefully perform a quick pressure release, and remove the lid. Serve warm.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for ¼ of the recipe.
My cheesy bean bake is also super popular - give this one a try too!
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