Instant Pot Pasta Italia
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Instant Pot Pasta Italia

by Oct 11, 2020

Instant Pot Pasta Italia

by Oct 11, 2020

Since traveling is one of my happy things in life, this whole not being able to travel right now thing kind of has me bummed. I especially pine for Italy – one of my favorite (and most beautiful) places on earth.
So I wanted to share my love for this fine country by paying it homage with a pasta dish done to presto perfection in the Instant Pot. But which sauce? The answer, my friends, immediately became clear.
The colors green, white and red comprise the Italian flag and it was all too perfect that pesto, alfredo and marinara sauces, respectively, would blend together to form something magical. Load it up with some meaty options like sausage and meatballs and a cheesy al forno finale and you have yourself Pasta Italia!
 
Here’s How I Made It! (scroll to the bottom for the fully-written recipe): 
 
Begin with a shallot…
 
…and dice it up.
 
Then, take some Italian sausage (sweet or hot. I chose hot)…
 
…and slice each into 1/4-inch pieces (NOTE: place the sausage in the freezer for 10 minutes before slicing and it will slice very cleanly and firmly with little mess!)
 
Now add olive oil to the Instant Pot…
 
…along with some butter…
 
…and give it some heat. Once heated up…
 
…add in the shallot…
 
…along with some garlic…
 
…and sauté for a few minutes.
 
Then, add the sausage…
 
…and sauté until lightly browned.
 
Add in some broth…
 
…marinara sauce…
 
…black pepper…
 
…fresh basil…
 
…and stir well.
 
Then, add in the pasta, but DON’T STIR IT. Just smooth it out…
 
…until it’s nicely submerged under the liquid.
 
Top it off with some meatballs (frozen work well. If you aren’t into the kind from the frozen food section of the market, make mine and add them to the top now – just make sure they’re the same size as in this photo!)
 
DON’T STIR THE BALLS! Just let them rest on top of the pasta. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.
 
Wave your wand and say “PRESTO!” When done, you’ll have some pasta cooked pronto!
 
Give everything a stir and prepare for the Italia!
 
Add in some pesto…
 
…cream…
 
…Parmesan…
 
…Boursin or any spreadable herb/cream cheese…
 
…and a little more marinara.
 
Stir until fully combined. If you wish to serve it now, go for it! BUT if you want a cheesy top done al forno (“in oven”) style, read on.
 
 
Sprinkle on some shredded Mozzarella cheese…
 
…add the air fryer lid (or place in a casserole dish in the oven and broil)…
…and Mama Mia! Look-a that! 
 
Serve it up like this…
 
…or get REALLY fun and do it like this!
 
Admire a taste of Italy on your fork…
 
…before devouring it.
 
And Pasta Italia, my friends, is amore!
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter
  • 1-2 shallots, diced
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (optional)
  • 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 cups garlic or chicken broth (I used 3 teaspoons Garlic Better Than Bouillon + 3 cups water)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (I use Victoria brand), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1 pound (1 box) of mezze penne or ziti rigati
  • 12 ounces frozen meatballs (optional; if you don’t feel like using frozen meatballs, you can make my awesome ones here – just make them half the size)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5.2-ounce package of Boursin (any flavor) or 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunky cubes
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce (Costco has my fave if not making your own – see Jeff’s Tip)

Should you wish to make this “al forno” style (which is Italian for “baked in the oven”), simply add about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the top of the pasta just before serving and place the air fryer lid on top. Hit Broil (400°) for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly brown to your likeness. If you don’t have an air fryer lid and wish it to be al forno, simply transfer the pasta to a large casserole dish, cover with cheese and broil in the oven for a few minutes until bubbly brown – just keep an eye on it as all oven vary.

To make your own pesto sauce, add the following to a food processor and pulse until puréed:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

 

  1. Add the oil and butter to the Instant Pot and hit Sauté and Adjust to the More or High setting. Once the butter’s melted, add the shallot and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the sausage (if using) and sauté until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce, pepper, basil and stir.
  3. Add the pasta but DO NOT STIR – just smooth it out until mostly submerged in the liquid. Top with meatballs (if using). Again, DO NOT STIR.
  4. Pressure cook for 6 minutes. Quick release when done.
  5. Add in the cream, Parmesan, Boursin, pesto and remaining 1/2 cup of marinara sauce. Stir until well combined.
  6. Enjoy either right away or al forno (see Jeff’s Tip).

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