Do you always feel under pressure to get dinner on the table? I’m a big fan of fast and easy meals that are nourishing and don’t break the bank. This recipe for what I’m calling Under Pressure Loaded Pasta is one that I created as a way to incorporate my pressure cooker into more of my easy weeknight meals. It’s ready in less than 30 minutes which is always a win in my book of life.
I know that many families don’t have a pressure cooker, but this is a recipe that is easily adapted for a large stock pot instead. One pot meals definitely equal less time spent cleaning up and don’t we all need a little of that in our lives?!
I didn’t grow up with rich Alfredo sauces, our spaghetti was always topped with whatever jarred spaghetti sauce my mom picked up on sale and for that reason I developed a love for rich tomato sauces. My kids love both sauces and as a way to get them to eat more vegetables I’ve always added lots of finely diced veggies to my pasta sauces whether red or white.
If your family absolutely will not eat diced veggies in the sauce, blending them is a great way to incorporate the veggies seamlessly into a pasta dish. I would saute the diced vegetables first in oil or butter to soften, blend them, and then add the vegetable paste directly to the sauce.
For this Pressure Cooker Pasta, I recommend using bow tie pasta also known as Farfalle or a thick pasta with a similar boiling time. I don’t like a super tender pasta so 4 minutes under pressure was perfect since I opened the lid and continued to allow the sauce to thicken the pasta was a perfect al dente texture. If you prefer a more tender pasta set your pressure cooker to 5 minutes instead. My pressure cooker switches over to a warm setting which allows for a little extra cooking.
If you are dairy free and would like to thicken the sauce a little more, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the mixture as you add the ground beef and if necessary, after the pasta is cooked through, thicken the sauce with a tablespoon or two of dried potato flakes, or arrow root or cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons of water.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for daily updates please follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest using the social media icons found on this page.
I don’t have an Instant Pot. My version is an electric pressure cooker from Walmart so adjust according to your specific model of pressure cooker.
Wash and dice all of your vegetables, mince the garlic, measure out the tomato sauce, and gather all of your spices. I like to have everything in place and ready to add to the pressure cooker.
Turn on the brown or saute setting and add 1 – 2 tsps. of oil to the warmed pressure cooker. Add all of the diced vegetables to the pressure cooker and saute for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Next add the ground beef (or Italian sausage), minced garlic, salt and pepper, and all other seasonings. Cook the mixture, stirring often to break up the ground beef, until the meat is browned. I use lean meats so I don’t need to drain off any fat, but if you have a lot of extra grease spoon it off.
Add the baby spinach to the pot and stir it in with the ground beef and vegetables until it’s is slightly wilted (1 – 2 minutes). Next stir in the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and the beef broth (and tomato paste if using). I use the spoon to break the stewed tomatoes up into smaller chunks. Pour in the uncooked pasta and push it down into the mixture to ensure that it’s covered by the liquid. Hit cancel to stop the browning process.
Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Close the valve and set the pressure to high (70 pounds for my model) and the cook time to 4 minutes or 5 minutes if you prefer a soft pasta. When the timer beeps open the lid carefully to avoid the steam. Stir the mixture and test a noodle to make sure it’s cooked through to al dente. The sauce will seem soupy, but once the cheese is added it will thicken up.
Add the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and stir everything together. Since I use beef broth and salty cheeses, I don’t add a lot of salt, but always taste the final product and add more salt if necessary.
I allow this to sit on warm for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken up before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Note – If you don’t have a pressure cooker follow all of the same methods but the liquid will need to come up to a boil on the stove top in order for the pasta to cook completely. If necessary add a little extra water if the pasta absorbs too much liquid during the stove top process. Once the pasta is cooked through then add the cheese.
For dairy free options you may need dried potato flakes, arrow root, or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Top with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan for a dairy free alternative.