Bright, tasty, al dente lentils.  My sister said it best after tasting this recipe, “Wow! This is not mom’s brown mushy lentils that we were forced to eat.  I like lentils now!”  And so will you. From start to finish, this recipe will only take a little over 20 minutes, with only 10 minutes cooking time under pressure (versus 45-60 in a regular pan)! The chopped tomatoes are the secret to keeping the lentils “springy” but not raw and giving the whole dish a bright flavor.

I like to serve these lentils as a main dish on top of polenta, or Basmati rice, with a swirl of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil and a little chopped parsley or basil on top.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger none 10-15 min. High(2) Natural

4.9 from 10 reviews
Pressure Cooked Lentils in Tomato Sauce
 
Author: 
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: One sixth
  • Calories: 104.8
  • TOTAL Fat: 2.9g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 14.2g
  • Sugar Carbs: 1.7g
  • Sodium: 400.4mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 4.6g
  • Protein: 5.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (use it all from stem to leaf)
  • 1 medium green pepper (not red, it comes out strangely sweet!)
  • 1½ cups chopped tomatoes (or 14.5oz / 400g can)chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • 1½ cups (300g) dry lentils
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Add a dash of olive oil in your pre-heated pressure cooker and soften the onion, celery and pepper.
  2. When the whole mix is softened, add the chopped tomatoes and mix well.
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and curry (if using).
  4. Now, add the lentils and water and mix well, rubbing the base of the cooker with the spoon to lift any brown bits that may have stuck there and incorporate them into the dish.
  5. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
  6. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, when cooking time is up count 10 minutes of natural open time. Then, release the rest of the pressure slowly using the valve.
  7. Open the pressure cooker and serve!
Notes
Each serving can provide the recommended daily value of 22% Folate, 12.3% Magnase and 9% iron.



Bright & Delicious: Tomato Lentil Pressure Cooker Recipe

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66 Comments

  1. Are they Puy lentils? You have persuaded my husband to have some tonight, amazing! He is British and I spend all my life trying to persuade him to eat beans and lentils.

  2. Hi Tammy, I used the regular-sized reddish ones. In Italy, they just call them “lentils” also the slightly smaller green ones are ok – from googling the name these may be the puy.

    I’ve used large lentils (beige) and they seem to get a little too soft. I don’t recommend using the French “beluga” lentils, which are very small and black, they were too “crunchy” and their flavor is not that great. Maybe the Belugas lend themselves to a specific preparation, and this is not it!

    I make this dish at least once a month and am always looking for new lentil varieties to try with this recipe!

    Enjoy!

    L

  3. Thank you for clarifying. I will try with Puy Lentils as I have these at home at the moment and let you know. I am also pefecting my creamy chick pea soup recipe I tried in an Italian restaurant once(no tomatoes) and he has obligingly agreed to be my guinea pig. Will post when successful. Making progress on the lentil front with my family!

  4. I made lentils once according to the instructions of my pressure cooker.
    Oh my God! I obtained only mashed lentils,not very attractive :-)
    This afternoon I prepared lentils in your way and….it WORKS!!!!
    Thanks Laura

  5. Miss Tammy, how did your hubby like the lentils?

    Anonymous, That’s funny and sad. but I’m so glad you decided to give lentils another shot and succeeded!

    Ciao,

    L

  6. Bravissima! I am going to cook this now!

    1. How did you like it?!?! Send me a picture of this (or any other pressure cooker recipe) in one of your pretty pottery pieces, and I’ll post it on facebook!

      Ciao,

      L

  7. This looks good – I am trying to get into lentils and other beans, but quite often the recipes seem to ‘long’. How much water should I use if I weigh out my lentils in grams?

    1. Roy, in the recipe above I have the weight also written 300g of lentils is a heaping cup.

      Ciao,

      L

  8. Have only ever used split red lentils before in other dishes such as soup or curries. Was surprised at how easy and tasty these were. First couple of times I used what is generically called brown or green lentils. Did not look as nice as yours but tasted good and even better the next day. Just made them today using Persian Red Lentils. These look much more like yours but I had to add another couple of minutes to the cooking time. These are great to have for a quick and filling lunch or for breakfast with a couple of pieces of fried bacon:)

  9. You said to “add a dash of olive oil in your preheated pressure cooker” How do you ‘preheat’ a pressure cooker. I never used one and they scare me to death. They say never to heat an empty pressure cooker. So how do you preheat it?
    Thanks.

    1. Instruction manuals, often say not to bring a cooker to pressure without liquid. I haven’t read an instruction manual, yet that says not to pre-heat it. So I would love to hear more about where you read this.

      You can pre-heat your pressure cooker just as you would any normal pan. Put the cooker on medium flame, without the lid, until the top edge becomes almost too hot to touch (about 3-4 minutes). If using induction, put on medium power and as soon as the base is giving off lots of heat that can be felt with your hand near – but not touching – the base (about 1 minute). Then, proceed with the recipe.

      Enjoy!

      L

  10. Thanks! I read it here http://www.hippressurecooking.com/quick-pressure-cooker-ragu-meat-sauce-lesson-3-brown-de-glaze-and-reduce/ but I don’t think it applies to me. I don’t have an electric pressure cooker. I ended up a bit confused on that page still, but I’ll just go ahead do what you said. Thanks, again.

    1. There it says “Never pre-heat and empty NON-STICK pressure cooker” – that’s because you should treat non-stick pressure cookers just like your normal non-stick pans (no pre-heat, no metal utensils, etc.) and you will get similar results as well.

      Apologies for the confusion!

      Ciao,

      L

  11. I’ve made this recipe in the quantities noted above; but was wondering if you had any guidelines for scaling it up for 4x or even 8x the quantities noted?
    Please let me know! Thanks,
    Josh

    1. okjosh, I’m sorry my experience so far is only with home-cooking. I cannot give you reliable guidance on bulk and restaurant quantities. Once the batch grows to 4 and 8x several factors need to be reconsidered. Larger industrial pressure cookers and more ingredients will change the time to pressure and may also have a different evaporation rate – factors that can affect the recipe.

      If you’re patient, I can help you work through this while, I too, learn something new.

      I need to know what size and model pressure cooker you would be using. And on what kind of cooktop (if any)? Have you used it before? Do you know what pressure it reaches?

      Once I have your answers, I can walk you through doing a water test in the appropriate amount to determine the evaporation rate and time to pressure. With that information, I should be able to give you a detailed answer to scaling the recipe to larger quantities.

      In the meantime, I can tell you that this recipe can be doubled for 8 or 10L/qt pressure cookers by removing 1/2 cup of water (so instead of 4 cups, use 3 1/2).

      Thanks for asking, and I apologize for not having the exact answer you were hoping for.

      Ciao,

      L

  12. I used this recipe as a base tonight with a few modifications, and boy oh boy, was it good! My husband really liked it a lot. The bag of lentils I had was 16 oz, so I used 2 stalks of celery, added 3 chopped cloves of garlic, 3 lamb shanks already cooked and prepared that I get at Costco plus all the seasonings those are in, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/4 cup lemon juice added after all the cooking is done. I used 1.5 cans of chicken stock instead of water (about 3 cups). After cooking, I deboned the lamb shanks and tore the meat into smaller chunks and discarded the bones and fat. I didn’t use any curry powder, but I may the next time or use turmeric. I may add cumin too to give it a little middle eastern flair. This recipe has been added to my keeper file. Another excellent recipe from Hip Pressure Cooking! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for coming to share your experience and changes.

      You’re welcome!

      L

  13. I have a couple smoked ham hocks and wanted to use them with my lentils in my pressure cooker. How would you suggest altering the recipe?

  14. Hi,
    I got a WMF Perfect pro kit with 3l and 6.5l pot couple of weeks ago. So far, I have made some very nice soups, a beef stew, and boiled some potatoes. But once I put tomatoes in there, I get into trouble.

    I have tried a Bolognese-like ragu and this lentil recipe, and both turned out to be burned when I opened the lid. Both were made in the 6.5l pot according to you instructions. My stove top is not very strong. It’s an ordinary ceramic top (not induction). If I don’t use full heat, I’m not sure I can even get the pot starting to build pressure when using the big one.

    Do you have any hints or tips..

    Thanks,
    Kjell

    1. You should treat a ceramic cook-top as with electrics. Have one burner on med-high heat for saute’ and up-to-pressure steps, and then in the meantime heat-up a smaller burner at the lowest temperature the pressure cooker needs to maintain pressure. Once the cooker has reached pressure: switcharoo!

      What is happening is that the burner is running too hot. So do the first step of the switcharoo on med-high heat next time.

      Ciao,

      L

      P.S. I don’t envy you. Many Williams-Sonoma (large American cookware chain) locations have these ceramic burners and they’re absolute hell for pressure cookers – and even worse for those trying to do a pressure cooker demo on them!!! ; )

  15. Thanks,
    so what you are saying is that once I put the lid on, I should move it to lower heat? Or should I wait until I reach pressure?

    From the smell of it, I would say the burning happened after the lid was closed, but before it started to build pressure.

    I’m getting an induction top in a few weeks. If I understand correctly, these are better in the sense that they are faster to react when you turn down the heat.

    Great site by the way. It has become my reference point for everything related to pressure cooking.

    Kjell

  16. To answer your immediate question, bring it to pressure on high. Then once you are at pressure, move it to the other burner.

    Tomatoes can be tricky as they burn easily. Especially if there is sugar in there as well. One trick that has been reported is to bring everything to a boil stirring all the time. Then put the lid on. It should come up to pressure quite quickly. And the stirring will reduce the chance of the tomatoes catching and burning.

    Another trick with tomatoes is to put them in last so they are on top furthest from the heat. And don’t stir at all once they go in. I have tried this one and can attest it works.

    You won’t know yourself once you get your induction cooktop. It will revolutionise all your cooking not just under pressure. Laura has a page somewhere on tips with induction surfaces, but the main point is to bring the PC up to pressure on MEDUIUM heat.

  17. Just because I am a completionist…
    A third technique with things that burn easily is to use Pot In Pot. Basically prepare your ingredients in a heat proof bowl that will fit into the PC comfortably. If it is also flame proof you can do any braising directly in the bowl. Otherwise braise separately and transfer. Add water to the PC then sit your bowl on a trivet in the PC and steam it under pressure. Don’t forget a sling so you can get the bowl out easily afterwards. Personally I just use oven mitts and don’t bother with the sling, but I have a very wide PC so I can get my hands down the sides easily.

  18. Thanks Greg, lots of good info there.

    Kjell

  19. The sounds tasty! What would the cook times be for this recipe in an Instant Pot?

    1. Welcome TheDailyMel, for this recipe – and any recipe on this website- use the longer recommended cooking time for the Instant Pot. So that would be 15 minutes.

      Enjoy!

      L

      1. Thanks, Laura! I thought that might be the case, but just wanted to confirm.

    1. Thanks for sharing these two valuable lentil tutorials! Ciao, L

  20. Wow, this was the third thing I made in my new pressure cooker and it is delicious. Eating it while I type in fact!

    The bit of curry is an awesome addition.

    Thanks again for this recipe, loved it!

    Doug

  21. Yesterday, I made this recipe. It was terrific! I made a couple of modifications. I used canned “chopped tomatoes”, the ones I used had mild green chili’s, which I thought where a nice addition. Instead of two cups of water, I substituted, two cups of chicken broth, for additional flavor. Otherwise everything else was as specified. Will definitely make this again.

    – augustwest

    1. These both sound like great additions, so glad to read you enjoyed the lentils!

      Ciao,

      L

  22. Hi. I tried this recipe yesterday. While the flavor profile was great, I found that some of the lentils came out came out mushy while others came out slightly underdone. I am new to pressure cooker cookery and perhaps I did something wrong in the prep? Any ideas on what could have gone wrong with my dish? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jenny, and welcome! Is it possible that the lentils were not very “fresh”? The kind of problem you’re having usually happens EITHER if no enough water was added OR the lentils are pretty old. If you have any more of those lentils left, make sure to soak them in water for 4 hours before your next recipe. Lentils don’t typically need to be soaked but it will make those old lentils a little more edible!

      Ciao,

      L

  23. I just made your recipe & it tasted good. My lentils came out mushy. I used diced tomatoe can. Didn’t really taste any of the curry powder. Had to put more salt & pepper in to get a little more taste. Maybe my boyfriend & I like things spicy. What is it that I did wrong? Also you didn’t mention what it should be set at during the whole time. I used the sauté button to do the onions, celery & peppers. Should I have something different about that issue.

    1. Did you use split lentils? What kind of pressure cooker do you have?

      Ciao,
      L

      1. It was a trio lentils of red split, green & black beluga lentils. Got these at my Costco warehouse. I have a instant pot smart.

        1. Well, the split lentils are supposed to get mushy – they never hold their shape when cooked. I see that the Costco “lentil trio” has two split lentils and black beluga lentils, is that the mix you used?

          All of those legumes require less cooking time than the lentils called for in this recipe (splits 1 min, beluga 7 min).

          For next time, I recommend trying this recipe with just one lentil type and if it’s not the one recommended in the recipe to look-up the pressure cooking time in the time-table:
          http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooking-times/#beans

          Ciao,

          L

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