Brown rice and French lentils, lentils du Puy are a healthy Instant Pot sensation that will have you shouting ooh la la. This fuss-free, oil-free, plant-based recipe gets you from prep to table in less than an hour with minimal cooking and mess.
why you need this recipe
We are always searching for undemanding plant-based meals, preferably that leaves just one cooking pot to wash. I don’t think it's a mere tradition that brings rice and legumes to the top of our list. And when you include the ease of Instant Pot cooking using dry beans and healthy brown rice, you really can’t go wrong.
For this meal, we are going unabashedly French. French, Puy lentils, to the Herbs de Province, and oh, Dijon mustard. We’ll even employ 2 of my favorite French cooking terms – mise en place and mirepoix. We’re definitely on a mission.
ingredients you need
Onion, celery, carrot – These ingredients comprise the mirepoix describing a process whereby veggies are sauteed to build flavor.
You’ll recognize this veggie combo., This is the first flavor-building foundation for recipes from classic rice and bean dishes (like this one) to more complex stews, soups, and casseroles.
Salt and pepper – Strategically, we’ll add salt and pepper to cook with the veggies. This helps to build the flavor and release the sugars of the onions and carrots.
Garlic – Often, garlic is included in the initial sauté of mirepoix; however, we’ll be breaking a few cooking rules by not doing a slow simmer. For this reason, the garlic gets added and simply mixed in. It’s easy to scorch garlic, and if you've never tried it, it's super bitter.
Herbs de Province – A classic French herb blend hailing from the Province region of France, herbs de province is available in most supermarkets.
The composition of the blends may vary depending on the specific mix. But most will include savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. North American brands often include lavender leaves.
Sherry – Once you saute the veggies and add the herbs, you need to deglaze the Instant Pot. My preference? Sherry, Mon Cheri.
Sherry gives this dish subtle overtones of fruit. If you don’t want to use it, you can deglaze the Pot with either white wine, vegetable broth, and always, water.
Dijon mustard – Dijon is sharp, salty, and really compliments lentils. I’ve been known to add it to lentil soup. I ended up using 2 tablespoons but stick to 1 if you are not a mustard freak like me. You can stir in a bit more mustard after cooking or even dollop servings as a condiment.
One thing to note, if you find Dijon really salty, you may want to skip the sea salt that is added with the garlic.
You can always remedy a lack of salt with more, but reducing it is nearly impossible.
French lentils – You’ll know them immediately when you see them. French, Puy lentils are small, dark, green lentils. They are nutty and peppery like green lentils tend to be. What sets them apart is that they hold their shape. This is one reason we like to use them in lentil soup.
There’s no mushing about with French lentils. They won't concede and break down to accommodate the rice they are cooked with. Nope. Holding their own, that's French lentils.
Brown basmati rice – Just like with curried rice, I stand by brown basmati rice. Fragrant, nutty, and so very healthy. And please, use brown rice, it's better for you, and it won’t turn to mush in the Instant Pot.
We are such fans of brown basmati rice that I’ve not tested this recipe with short or long-grain white rice. If you decide to make this substitute, consult with the package directions for the amount of liquid. Long-grain white rice will be your best bet as short grain may go mushy in the time it takes the lentils to cook.
Vegetable broth – 2 cups of good quality vegetable broth unites all the ingredients. In my experience, broth gives this dish more depth and body. That said, you can use water.
- The initial cooking recipe goes quickly. For this reason, employee the cooking strategy of mise en place (everything in place). Gather and measure all the ingredients before you switch on The Instant Pot so that they are ready to go.
- Heat the Instant Pot to High Saute, and then add the onions, celery, and carrots. For the evenest of cooking, try to keep the diced pieces relatively the same, small-diced size.
- Press the garlic into a small dish and then use a fork to press the garlic into it. This helps enhance the garlicky flavor.
- Be sure that you use a wooden spoon or soft utensil to clear the bottom of the Instant Pot. One of the sure-fire triggers for the ‘food burning’ signal is having food stuck to the bottom.
- Rinse the lentils before adding them. This washes away any dust. At the same time, have a quick look to discard any lentils that are broken or are discolored. I didn’t rinse the rice for this recipe, although it's good practice when adding rice to vegetables. Maybe it’s me or the rice, but I didn’t notice a difference.
- After you add the broth, guess what? It’s time to clear the bottom of the Instant Pot. This will be the last time before you get to the ‘set and forget’ portion of our dinner cooking.
- To cook the rice and lentils, secure the Instant Pot lid and move the steam release handle to the Sealing position. Set the temperature to High Pressure for 16 minutes and turn off the warming button.
- This dish benefits from another 15-16 minutes or more of natural release time. This helps keep the rice from clumping up.
To make this recipe on the stovetop, use a heavy-bottomed medium pot. Follow the recipe as written. Once you add the broth, bring the ingredients to a boil. Then cover, and reduce the heat so that it is simmering. Cook for 50-55 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.
French lentils are a type of green lentils. A general bag of bigger green lentils will not have the same cooking results as French or Puy lentils because French lentils don’t break down as they cook.
Lentils do not require soaking before cooking, although you should always rinse them. Rinsing rids lentils of dust or sediment. At this time, sort through the lentils and discard any that are broken or discolored.
There is not a direct substitute herb blend for Herbs de Province; however, you can make a mix of equal measures of thyme, oregano, and marjoram. You can also include savory, basil or rosemary.
one-pot dishes we love
brown rice and French Lentils: Instant Pot
Brown rice and French lentils (lentils de Puy) are a healthy, oil-free, plant-based Instant Pot sensation that’s on the table in less than an hour.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 40 min
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: one-pot
- Cuisine: French
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium onion, diced small
- 2 stalks celery, diced small
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, pressed or mashed
- 1 Tbsp. Herbs de Province
- ¼ cups of sherry (you can also use white wine or vegetable broth)
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup French lentils (Puy lentils), rinsed
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Heat the Instant Pot on High Sauté. Then add the onions, celery, and carrots. Then stir in the salt and pepper. Sauté the veggies, stirring them frequently with the lid off for 5 minutes or until the veggies start to soften.
- Add the garlic and the Herbs de Province. Stir the ingredients for about 30 seconds until the veggies are covered with the herbs.
- You can cancel the Sauté mode at this point. Immediately add the sherry to deglaze the Instant Pot. Use a wooden spoon or soft utensil to clear the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Add the mustard, lentils, rice, and vegetable broth. Give the bottom of the Instant Pot another stir to ensure there is no food stuck to the bottom.
- Secure the Instant Pot lid and move the steam release handle to the Sealing position. Set the cook mode to High Pressure for 16 minutes and turn off the warming button.
- When the pressure-cooking process ends, leave the Instant Pot alone. Allow the steam to naturally release for another 16 minutes.
- Move the steam release valve back to unsealing and carefully remove the Instant Pot lid. Give the ingredients a stir and fluff up the rice. Taste and adjust the mustard or Herbs de Province. You can also add more salt or freshly ground pepper if desired.
- Serve individually or in a big bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
- This recipe is made in a 6-quart Instant Pot. The amount of broth and cooking time has been tested with French lentils and brown basmati rice. Adjustments may be required if you deviate from these ingredients.
- The actual cooking time will depend on how long it takes the Instant Pot to reach Sauté and High Pressure.
- Be consistent in clearing the bottom
- f the Instant Pot. Food left on the bottom can trigger the ‘food burning’ alert on the Instant Pot.
- If you are sensitive to salt, you might consider eliminating the salt added to the onions, carrots, and celery. Dijon mustard has a salty flavor, and some vegetable broth also contains salt.
- Herbs de Province is available at most supermarkets. It is usually a blend including thyme, savory, oregano, marjoram, and oregano. Some mixes also include lavender.
- To make this recipe on the stovetop using a heavy-bottomed medium pot. Follow the recipe instructions. Once you add the broth, bring the ingredients to a boil. Then cover, and reduce the heat so that it is simmering. Cook for 50-55 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.
Keywords: brown rice and French lentils