The Instant Pot has sparked a level of obsession nary before seen by appliances, especially in the healthy food crowd, who love its entirely stainless-steel interior and the ability to quickly prep their favorite ingredients from scratch. Now, there’s even an entire cookbook devoted to the slow cooker/pressure cooker/rice cooker/all-in-one machine, The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. These three recipes are some of the healthiest meals you can cook in the Instant Pot, with a protein-packed quinoa breakfast porridge, a fiber-rich chana masala, and a lentil soup that can be on the table in less time that it takes to order takeout.
Quinoa Porridge With Pepitas and Honey
A topping of toasted pepitas (aka shelled pumpkin seeds) and a drizzle of honey add crunch and sweetness to this warming breakfast bowl, a nice alternative to oatmeal. Look for pepitas in the bulk foods section of well- stocked supermarkets and health food stores or order them online. If you can find only raw pepitas, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until they are aromatic and have taken on a little color.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup roasted pepitas
- ¼ cup honey
- Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Multigrain setting and set the cooking time for 8 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and stir the porridge to incorporate any extra liquid.
- Ladle the porridge into bowls and serve topped with the almond milk, pepitas, and honey, dividing them evenly.
Red Lentil Soup With Sumac
I used to make this on the stovetop all the time, but now I prefer to use the Instant Pot. Whip up a batch whenever you have a few minutes to spare, and it will stay piping hot until you’re ready to enjoy it. The soup is brightly flavored from the squeeze of lemon juice stirred in at the end of cooking. That addition really makes the dish, so don’t skip it! Serve the soup drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sumac (a lemony Middle Eastern spice) for a fresh, peppery finishing touch.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup red lentils
- 4 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
- Ground sumac, for serving
- Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and is translucent. Add the lentils, water, and bay leaf, and stir well.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Soup/Broth setting and set the cooking time for 15 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and stir in the lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, top each serving with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac, and serve right away.
If you like, add 1 teaspoon of a favorite spice blend to the soup when you add the lentils. Garam masala, ras el hanout, and berbere are three of my favorites.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups water if using dried chickpeas, plus ¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups store-bought Indian simmer sauce
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus coarsely torn leaves for garnish
- Steamed rice or warmed naan, for serving
- If you like to prepare some of your weekday meals on the weekend, make this recipe and you’ll be rewarded with a comforting Indian-inspired supper at the end of a busy day. Just make the Indian simmer sauce—it makes enough for three batches (and it’s good for simmering other things too)—and soak your dried chickpeas ahead of time (if you’re in a hurry, use canned chickpeas).
- If using dried chickpeas, combine the chickpeas, 4 cups water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Leave the pot turned off and let the beans soak for 10 to 12 hours or up to overnight.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Bean/Chili setting and set the cooking time for 15 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 15 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, wearing heat-resistant mitts, lift the inner pot out of the Instant Pot and drain the chickpeas in a colander. Return the freshly cooked chickpeas to the inner pot and return to the Instant Pot housing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program.
- Add the simmer sauce and the remaining ¼ cup water and stir well (if using canned chickpeas, start here by adding them to the simmer sauce and ¼ cup water). Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Bean/Chili setting and set the cooking time for 3 minutes at high pressure.
- When the timer goes off, you have three choices: You can perform a quick release by moving the Pressure Release to Venting; you can let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam; or you can let the pressure release naturally, then leave the chickpeas in the pot on the Keep Warm setting for up to 10 hours.
- Once you have opened the pot, stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Spoon the chickpeas over the rice or accompany with naan on the side. Garnish with cilantro before serving.
If you like, stir in 6 ounces baby spinach; 2 cups cubed paneer, winter squash, or potatoes; or 2 cups small cauliflower florets, frozen green peas, or mixed vegetables along with the cooked chickpeas. It’s easy to add to this dish to make it a hearty one-pot meal.