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Set your Instant Pot to saute and add the oil to the pot. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches as needed, brown the beef on all sides. (If you’re in a rush, you can skip this step.)
Add the tomato paste to the pot and let it caramelize for 3-4 minutes, or until it has darkened and is sweet smelling.
Add the browned meat, carrots, onion, mushrooms, baby potatoes, beef stock, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and stir. Lock the lid and set the Instant Pot for 35 minutes on High Pressure. When it has finished cooking, use the quick release to release the pressure for at least 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the agar powder over the stew and stir to thicken.
While the stew is cooking, prepare the pesto. Place all the pesto ingredients into a blender and blend on high until mostly smooth. If needed, you can add a little water to thin the pesto. Serve spooned over the top of the beef stew.