Instant Pot Unstuffed Shells
Instant Pot Unstuffed Shells
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 3 cups garlic or chicken broth (I used 3 teaspoons Garlic Better Than Bouillon + 3 cups water)
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons hot sauce (optional, it won’t be spicy – just adds extra flavor)
- 1 bunch basil, leaves only and rinsed well
- 1 box (12 ounces) jumbo pasta shells, uncooked
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, microwaved for 3 minutes and then drained through a fine-mesh colander (optional, and make sure to squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (plus up to 2 cups more if you want the optional topping. See the yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 5.2 ounce package of Boursin (any flavor) or any spreadable herb cheese OR 4 ounces (half) of a brick of cream cheese (optional, but suggested!)
For a golden cheese top:
- If you have the Air Fryer Lid: cover the finished pasta with another 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, place the lid on top and hit Broil for 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and a bubbly brown.
- If you wish to use an oven, simply transfer the finished pasta to a casserole dish, cover with another 2 cups shredded mozzarella and pop it in a pre-heated oven at broil, uncovered, for about 3-5 minutes, until the cheese lightly bubbles and browns (be sure to keep an eye on it, as all ovens vary).
While I think 12 minutes it the perfect time for this, for more al dente shells, pressure cook for 8-10 minutes.
Want it vegetarian? Skip the meat in Step 3 and add in a splash of a dry red wine or Worcestershire sauce to deglaze the bottom fo the pot to so it’s nice and smooth.
This isn’t the most aesthetic dish because it’s like a saucy-meaty cheese-fest going on in the pot and if the shells become a bit unraveled while stirring or serving – so what? It’s still going to taste insane. Almost like an unbelievably decadent pasta stew that everyone will want seconds of.
- Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot and then hit “Sauté” and adjust so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Heat the oil for 3 minutes, or until shimmering.
- Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, until lightly softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the ground beef and cook, stirring constantly to crumble, until lightly browned (about 2 minutes), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in the broth, marinara sauce, hot sauce (if using) and basil leaves. Stir well
- Add the shells and DO NOT STIR—just press them down and smooth them out with a spoon so they’re mostly submerged in the sauce.
- Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” at high pressure for 12 minutes. Quick release when done.
- Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, egg, dried parsley and salt in a mixing bowl.
- When the pot’s done cooking, it may appear a little soupy at first. That’s all about to change. GENTLY stir in the ricotta mixture (don’t worry – the raw egg will quickly be cooked by the heat from the pot’s contents), Boursin (or cream cheese), mozzarella and parmesan until totally melded. The shells will begin to scoop everything up as it’s mixed. Let it sit
- for 5 minutes for everything to slightly thicken and come together well.
- Serve with garlic bread to sop up all the sauce! (NOTE: for a cheesy-broiled top, see the yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section)