It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the joys of the electric pressure cooker. It’s not one of those appliances that I bought on a whim that sits collecting dust after a few uses. It commands its very own place in the kitchen. My love for it has grown immensely over the almost two years since its arrival.
Not long ago, one of my mom’s best friends (hey, Sherrye!) told me that she’d just bought an electric pressure cooker like mine for $35 (I paid a little more than twice that on sale) and wanted to know what she was supposed to do with it. That opened the floodgates of ideas for what I hope will become her favorite kitchen helper.
When I bought ours, my husband was the ultimate skeptic. I rationalized that I mainly wanted it for making bone broth in a couple hours, rather than the 72 hours of slow cooking that we were accustomed to spending. Little did I know how important this one contraption would become in my kitchen.
While I’ve made gallons and gallons of bone broth, I’ve discovered that the electric pressure cooker is not only a time-saver in the kitchen, it allows me to make things that would otherwise intimidate me.
It’s best way for me to make any kind of dried bean from pintos to garbanzos and everything in between.
It’s the only way I’ve ever been able to achieve perfect rice, quinoa and millet, without scorching. Sweet potatoes are ready to be buttered and eaten in 15 minutes, rather than 45 minutes to an hour in the oven that heats up the house.
Eggs boiled in the electric pressure cooker peel easier – and cook faster – than any boiled egg I’ve ever known. I’ve made countless soups, stews.
And even better, I cook frozen whole chickens cooked in under an hour. That’s right, I’ve cooked an entire whole frozen chicken in less time than it would take to thaw one.
I’ve made homemade yogurt, and even the most perfect of cheesecakes, time and time again.
Besides refrigeration, I think it’s the best thing ever invented for the kitchen. I usually use it every day, sometimes twice.
I’ve thrown into our dinner rotation a pasta night, reserved for when I really don’t have a plan for food. I keep various organic packages of pasta and cans of organic tomatoes in the pantry, and all the herbs and spices stocked. A hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is usually lurking in the refrigerator. When I can pick basil from my front porch basil plants, I feel like I’m really creating a comforting, delicious meal… especially with something I’ve tended and grown, as small as the basil leaves are. Their contribution to a pasta dish is huge.
Rather than having a pot of water boiling on the stove, and another pot with sauce simmering, I’ve discovered that I can do it all in one pot in almost an instant. I use spaghetti, penne or rotini pasta and make my own sauce using whole tomatoes and herbs, but you can toss in a jar of pre-made pasta sauce if you prefer. There are many recipes out there for essentially instant pasta dishes cooked in your electric pressure cooker. I like to keep it pretty simple and meatless, but you can add meat if you like.
Here’s How Pasta Night Happens in My Kitchen:
In my beloved Instant Pot, I sauté in olive oil five cloves of minced garlic with a whole medium diced onion.
Next, I pop open that can of tomatoes (usually 28 ounces of San Marzano goodness – because I ran out of the fresh tomatoes we canned last year from Village Farms right down the road from us), and squish them up with my hands. Toss them in with the onions, garlic and oil that were sautéing in the Instant Pot.
Then, it’s out to the front porch to pluck some nice green leaves from one of my many basil plants that I’ve kept alive since last summer. Rinse and chop the basil, add it to the homemade tomato sauce. Throw in some salt and pepper, and a splash of Balsamic vinegar, and give it a good stir.
Then, I add the one-pound package of dried pasta, and pour in enough chicken broth (you can use water but I use broth whenever I have it) to cover the dried pasta (break spaghetti in half if you’re using spaghetti), toss in a tablespoon or two of real butter (just because butter makes everything better), but don’t stir it.
Set the Instant Pot for 5 minutes on High, and let the cooker release pressure naturally for 4 minutes, followed by a Quick Release. Some people like to cook it 8 minutes on High with a Quick Release. Carefully remove the liner pot from the cooker so it doesn’t continue to cook. Stir and serve it up.
The first time I made it, I found that it was too liquid-y, so I added heavy whipping cream to it, stirred and it magically became the most creamy pasta creation I’ve ever made.
At that point it, it’s literally been less than 25 minutes, start to finish. A delicious dinner with homemade sauce in 25 minutes? Yes, please. What’s not to love about a homemade dinner in almost an instant? Just don’t forget the freshly grated cheese on top.
Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche 🙂