Instant Pot Pasta
Pasta with red sauce is such a nourishing meal and now it is quick, and simple with my Instant Pot Pasta! This is the epitome of a one pot dish, no straining into a colander or mess to clean up. The pasta cooks in the sauce allowing the flavors to blend and transform into a decadent dish.
Pasta is a simple, starchy staple that has a great texture and taste, but really needs a sauce, dressing or something with a rich flavor. Enter red sauce! It keeps with the theme of quick and easy and requires just a can of whole tomatoes, olive oil and seasoning.
Start by heating up the olive oil and adding the garlic, yes all five cloves––I promise it will not over power. You can also add an onion, but for speed I left it out. Another option here would be a cup of wine, it will cook down and almost all the alcohol will evaporate and lends a nuanced flavor. Next, add the whole tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go. This is to make the sauce chunky with a hearty mouthfeel.
Alternatively, if you do not want to get personal with the tomatoes, you could use crushed tomatoes, but I often find them to be too crushed, and lacking in texture. If you want it to have a deeper, richer tomato taste try adding 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. As noted, make sure to let the tomato sauce cook down for about 10 minutes to let some of the water evaporate. Otherwise, there will be too much moisture leaving you with soggy pasta.
Rigatoni in my experience, is the most fool-proof pasta to use when making Instant Pot Pasta. The tube-shape helps to prevent the pasta from clumping together into a soggy mess and you do not need to break any noodles in half. Rigatoni comes in many shapes and sizes, and they all work so use your preferred brand and variety. As always, whole wheat pasta is higher in fiber and other nutrients making the meal more nourishing and filling.
Is Pasta Healthy?
As a Registered Dietitian some people may be surprised that I would post a pasta recipe. This wheat-based ingredient that’s calories are made mostly of carbohydrates has been demonized as unhealthy and “bad for you.” This is certainly not my opinion! Carbohydrates are an important fuel for our body and pasta has a much lower glycemic index than sugar sweetened beverages or a candy bar.
My favorite brand of pasta is Barilla and a 2 ounce serving has about 200 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. It is also enriched with B vitamins (like thiamin, riboflavin and niacin) and iron. It is also free of GMOs!1
A healthy dietary pattern includes a diversity of food and emphasizes your preferences and acknowledges that all foods can fit. That is why I post a wide variety of dishes to keep people inspired to eat many different vegetables, grains, fruits and lean proteins. So, when you enjoy my Instant Pot Pasta know that this is not a “cheat meal,” but part of a balanced diet. Often I find my Instant Pot Pasta alone is not satiating, keep reading for ideas of what to add!
Additions for a Complete Meal
For some people, my Instant Pot Pasta may be enough to be a complete meal, but for me it could use protein and healthy fat. A classic addition is cheese, try grating fresh parmesan, cubed feta or whatever you have on hand. Avocado slices would also work to bring a creamy plant-based flavor. As well as a good glug of olive oil drizzled on the top!
To add protein a can of beans is a deliciously underrated option. My favorite is white beans such as cannellini or navy beans. Rinse them in a colander to remove excess salt and mix in with pasta. Additionally, you can add shredded chicken, a quick and easy hack is using a rotisserie chicken. I also love Italian sausage or cured pork like prosciutto. Lastly, fresh herbs like parsley and basil will add a fresh, bright touch.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Whether you are an Instant Pot Pasta pro or a first time user this recipe for Instant Pot Pasta will not disappoint. Make sure to let the tomato sauce cook down before adding the pasta to ensure there is not too much liquid. It’s important to quick release after the 5 minute natural release to avoid the pasta over cooking. Top it with your preferred accompaniments. Enjoy!
- Barilla Rigatoni. Barilla Rigatoni. Accessed September 24, 2020. https://www.barilla.com/en-us/products/pasta/classic-blue-box/rigatoni
- pressure cooker
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 can 28 ounces whole tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- Turn on electric pressure cooker to saute and add oil. Add garlic and saute approximately 30 seconds to one minute.
- Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them to the pot. Be sure to pour in the entire contents of the can. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper then simmer until sauce begins to thicken, approximately 5 minutes.
- Stir in pasta, stock, and water. Make sure all the pasta is submerged. Turn on electric pressure cooker to High pressure for 5 minutes. At end of cooking time, allow to natural release for 5 minutes then quick release remaining pressure.
- Open lid and stir then allow pasta mixture to stand for 5 minutes.
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese.