Nothing makes (cooks) pasta as efficient as an Instant Pot. You never have to boil it separately and then strain it and EVERYTHING is done IN. ONE. POT.
So it’s only fitting I’m obsessed with dreaming up pasta dishes that aren’t only a breeze to make, but GOURMET in flavor. My Sausage & Shells is no exception to the level of excellence I strive for and is hands-down one of my favorite things I’ve ever created not only in my Instant Pot, but in my lifetime.
And so, my sausage and pasta loving friends, you are in for one of the best culinary experiences of your lives. Anyone you serve this to will fall in love with you.
I kid you not, this dish could be served at a 5-star restaurant while Jeeves is pouring you $300 water from the mythic glaciers of Iceland blessed by Björk. Except you can wear schlubby clothing while you eat it right in your own kitchen!
Here’s How I Made It!:
Because about 75% of my recipes start with the onion family, take some shallots…
…and dice ’em up.
Take a can of artichoke hearts…
…and drain them and rip ’em up coarsely by hand.
Now this would be a mighty sad sausage party without sausage. So let’s make sure we take some sweet Italian sausage…
…or hot Italian sausage…
…or, WHY NOT?! BOTH! (By the way, you can totally use any sausage you wish, but I feel that Italian works best for this dish)…
…and slice it up (in its raw state) into bite-size pieces. (It’s okay if some of the casing falls off while slicing).
Now let’s go to the Instant Pot and add in some butter and give it some heat.
Once the butter’s melted and sizzlin’, add in the shallots…
…stir it into the butter and allow it to cook for a few minutes.
Then, add in the sausage…
…along with some garlic…
…and stir everything together for a few minutes (but don’t fully cook the sausage – that’ll happen when it’s pressure cooking).
It’s time to add in some liquid. Pour in a dry white wine…
…as well as some garlic broth (or chicken broth if you don’t have garlic base).
Now add in some cherry or grape tomatoes…
…and our pasta: medium shells! This is absolutely my pasta of choice for this dish and I suggest using it (but make sure you use MEDIUM shells and not the large ones).
DO NOT STIR the pasta (it may have issues coming to pressure if you do), but rather smooth it out with a mixing spoon so it’s mostly submerged in the liquid. It’s okay if some is still “ice berg-ing” above it.
Top it off with some baby spinach and it will likely go right to the brim. And, like the pasta, DO NOT STIR. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.
When done, the spinach will have significantly cooked down into nothing.
NOW you can give everything a good stir. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed by the pasta but there will still be some left which is what we want.
And now a few final (magical) touches to make this sausage party orgasmic. Add in some half & half…
…grated parmesan (make sure it’s grated as it melts/blends far more easily than shredded)…
…and, my secret ingredient to the most deluxe, creamy and rich pasta – some Boursin!
For a lovely final touch, add in some artichoke hearts…
…and give everything a REALLY good stir for a few minutes until all of the Boursin has completely melded and blended into the sauce! Allow it to set for a moment and it will really thicken.
Transfer to a serving dish…
…and prepare yourself for one of the finest, most gourmet pastas you’ve EVAH HAD.
This was a real nice sausage party!
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of salted butter
- 2 large shallots, diced
- 1 lb of Italian Sausage (sweet, hot or mixed), sliced into 1/2″ pieces while raw (use 2 lbs if you want it to be SUPER sausagey)
- 1 tbsp of crushed garlic
- 3 cups of garlic broth (I used 1 tbsp of Garlic Better Than Bouillon + 3 cups of water but you can just use 3 cups of chicken broth instead if you don’t have this and it will still be great)
- 1 cup of white wine (any dry one, such as a Chardonnay, will do and you can use white cooking wine too if it’s all you have. If you don’t wish to use wine, add another cup of broth)
- 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
- 10 oz (approx) of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (you can double these if you wish)
- 1 lb (1 box) of medium shells (I strongly suggest using this exact kind of pasta)
- 5 oz of baby spinach
- 1/3 cup of half & half or heavy cream
- 5.2 oz package of Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese (or Boursin Shallot & Chive Cheese), cut into small crumbles (SECRET INGREDIENT! This is usually always found in the deli/cheese/cured meat section of any market and Costco sells it in packs of 3. If you cannot find it, 5 oz from a brick of cream cheese will do)
- 1 – 1 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping if desired (make sure it’s grated and NOT shredded as it melts/blends into the sauce properly. Also, the more cheese, the thicker the sauce!)
- 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly ripped up by hand
- Add butter to the Instant Pot (I used a 6qt), hit “Sauté” and “Adjust” so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Once the butter’s melted and sizzling, add in the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the sausage and garlic and stir for another 2 minutes (the sausage should not be fully cooked by this point)
- Next, add in the wine, broth, Italian seasoning, dried parsley and the tomatoes. Stir well
- Lastly, add in the pasta shells BUT DO NOT STIR. Just allow them to be as submerged under the liquid as possible by smoothing out with a mixing spoon (it is okay if some of the shells are sticking out above the liquid). Top off with the spinach and, again, DO NOT STIR. (Note: It’s going to feel like there’s a LOT of spinach in there and it will come up to the brim of the pot, but don’t worry – it cooks down into nothing!)
- Secure the lid and hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 6 minutes (5 minutes if you want the shells more “al dente”). Quick release when done.
- Stir in cream, Parmesan, Boursin and artichokes for about 2 minutes until the Boursin is completely melded into the sauce. Let it rest for another 5 minutes and it will have thickened perfectly. Transfer to a serving dish
Although I think 1 lb of sausage is totally sufficient, if you want this to be REALLY full of it, increase it to 2 lbs instead of 1.
Speaking of sausage, I definitely think Italian sausage (sweet, hot or both) works best for this recipe, BUT since there are SO many different kinds of sausage options available to bring to this sausage party, feel free to use any sausage of your choice!
Store any leftovers in some Tupperware and refrigerate for up to 5 days. The microwave will work fine for reheating when the time comes (about 30-60 seconds).