Instant Pot

How to Cook Beans in an Instant Pot (& Turn Them Into Colorful Salads)

August 23, 2017

With an effusive fanbase—The New York Times and Food52 itself have sung praises—the Instant Pot has seized the spotlight and is not letting go. But if you find the Instant Pot a little mystifying, you’re not alone. It rewards those who unravel its mysteries, but its control panel isn’t exactly inviting or transparent (thanks, “Porridge” button). I’m here to help: I wrote a cookbook for the Instant Pot to make the machine’s learning curve more of a gentle slope—and to feed you as you get the hang of it.

Let’s talk beans. Can you just open a can? Of course. But dried beans are more economical, and they emerge from the Instant Pot with a satisfying al dente texture. Beans are nourishing and quick, making them a summertime go-to for turning a salad into a satisfying meal. In the Instant Pot, they cook without pre-soaking and without heating up the kitchen, springing from the back of your pantry to center stage.

Start Here

While the Instant Pot is an appliance of many talents (slow cooker, rice maker, sauté pan, yogurt maker), it’s the pressure-cooker function that shines for salads such as these. Follow the master recipe to make the beans, stash them in the refrigerator for a few days if you’d like, and then turn them into the salad of your choice.

Salad Time

Black Bean with Melon and Feta Salad hovers satisfyingly between sweet and savory. Local melons shine in late summer, with produce stands piled high with fresh watermelons and cantaloupe. Serving watermelon with a shake of salt is an old trick for accenting its flavor. Here, the salty tang of feta revisits that technique, which works equally well to highlight cantaloupe’s sweetness.

White Bean with Cucumber and Sumac Salad gets a citrusy lift from fresh tangerines. The crisp, cooling texture and flavor of the cucumber make this a great salad for sharing at a late-summer barbecue, where it can serve as a side dish or main. Sumac—a spice often featured in Middle Eastern cuisine—provides a delicious, almost sneaky zing.

Black Bean with Mango and Chile Powder Salad combines tropical sweetness with a little heat. As much as I love to celebrate the local summer bounty, mangoes don’t grow in most North Americans’ backyards. But the rich, almost floral complexity of a perfectly ripe mango is enough to tempt me to stray from the farmers market. This salad builds on the classic Mexican street food of mango and chile powder, rounding it out with beans to produce a satisfying late-summer meal.

What do you like to make in your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker)? Let us know in the comments!

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I'm the author of "How to Instant Pot," the delicious guide to demystifying and mastering this incredibly useful and sometimes baffling appliance.