By Nancy Olah
I’m still amazed at how quickly I can make dinner in my new Instant Pot. My Lentil and Chorizo Stew takes me at least 6 hours in my slow cooker, so I was shocked when my same basic recipe took just 18 minutes of cooking in the Instant Pot. Talk about a time saver!
In addition to saving time, I’m also trying to avoid waste. When most of the tray of crudités went untouched at a lunch event I hosted on Friday, I was determined that the carrots, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes would find a new home in a soup or stew. Since the carrots and celery stalks were already cleaned and cut, it was a snap to dice them into smaller pieces, quarter the cherry tomatoes, chop an onion, rinse the lentils, and assemble the other ingredients. Start to finish, prep took me less than ten minutes.
I also tried a meatless chorizo I hadn’t used before: LightLife Smart Sausages Chorizo. Lightlife uses both soy and wheat gluten in its meatless sausages, as well as egg whites, so it is not vegan. The next time I make this stew, I’ll use No Evil Foods’ El Zapatista ‘Chorizo’ since that is my favorite vegan chorizo.
The nice thing about the Lightlife Chorizo was that it actually looked kind of marbled and meaty when I chopped it up in slightly irregular chunks.
I also decided to throw caution to the wind and broke two of my long-standing rules:
- First, I didn’t sauté my onion, celery, carrots, and garlic first – and honestly didn’t notice an appreciable difference in taste.
- Second, I put the chorizo chunks in at the beginning so that they cooked right along with the lentils and veggies.
Since I usually cook plant-based protein products as little as possible, I was pleasantly surprised that the texture of the Lightlife Chorizo wasn’t harmed at all by pressure cooking in the Instant Pot. I actually thought that cooking everything together infused the lentils with the meaty chorizo flavor.
Here’s all the ingredients in the Instant Pot before cooking . . .
. . . and here’s my savory stew after 18 minutes of cooking (plus the time to cool down so that the steam is released and the lid can be safely removed).
My lentils were soft and perfectly cooked for my hubby’s “Southern palate” after 18 minutes, but if you like your lentils with a bit more “bite” to them, I’d suggest setting your Instant Pot to cook for about 12 minutes, instead of 18 minutes. You may also want to stir in the baby spinach after the stew is cooked, but again – my hubby likes his greens well cooked, so I let the spinach cook with everything else from the very beginning.
BTW, I’m using a 6 quart Instant Pot (Instant Pot Ultra 60), which I think is the perfect size for cooking soups and stews. Although it retails for $149.50, my suggestion is to be patient and wait for a good sale. I snagged mine on sale for $99 – and now I wonder how I ever lived without it!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Lightlife Chorizo Smart Sausages, quartered lengthwise and cut into irregular chunks
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed well and coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- ⅓ cup red wine
- 4 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put all of the ingredients except the black pepper into a 6 qt. Instant Pot, stir to combine, and secure the lid.
- Using the manual setting, set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 18 minutes. (The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to full pressure, and after cooking for 18 minutes, you can either release all the steam if you're in a hurry to eat, or just let it cool down on its own - which I think is easier and safer!)
- Remove the Bay leaf before serving, and top each bowl with some freshly ground black pepper.
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