Now that school is back, I’m looking for quick weeknight meals from my pressure cooker. Here’s one that got raves from the kids - penne with sausage and peppers from the pressure cooker.
This is not the red-sauce pasta I had growing up - which I still love - but this feels different. Instead of a sea of red sauce, it has big, defined chunks. Pieces of sausage, peppers, chunks of diced tomato, and the short penne noodles that are - shhh - much easier to eat than my beloved childhood spaghetti. This is why I was amazed how much the kids like it - I was worried they would turn me down because they can see the pieces. But they devoured it, and asked me to make it again. (“Maybe without so many peppers next time” was the only suggestion. Not likely, kid!)
Penne with Sausage and Peppers is a one-pot special. Everything goes in the pressure cooker, my beloved Instant Pot. To serve, I pull the pot liner out of the pressure cooker base and set it on a hot pad in the center of the table. I’ll drop a ladle in the pot, set the block of parmesan and the grater on a plate, grab the jar of red pepper flakes (for my wife), and toss a Caesar salad on the side.
Is it as quick as jarred pasta sauce? Not quite. I insist on browning the sausage, and sautéing the onions, because they add so much flavor to the finished dish. But it’s still quick, and hands off once the pot is closed. And, oh my, does this taste better than any jar you can get at the store....
Video: Pressure Cooker Penne with Sausage and Peppers (2:03)
Pressure Cooker Penne with Sausage and Peppers [YouTube.com]Print
Pressure Cooker Penne with Sausage and Peppers. A one-pot pasta from the pressure cooker, perfect for a rustic weeknight dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 medium bell peppers, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch strips (I use a red, green, and yellow - the “stoplight pepper” pack at my grocery store)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup (4oz) grated parmesan, plus more for topping
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (plus more for garnishing)
- Brown the sausage: Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat (sauté mode adjusted to high in my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker) until the oil starts shimmering. Add the pieces of sausage and cook until browned and crispy on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Move the browned sausage to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving as much fat behind as possible.
- Sauté the onions and peppers: There should be at least a teaspoon of fat left in the pressure cooker pot from the sausages; if not, add another teaspoon of olive oil. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic to the pot, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes, scraping any browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the pot into the onions and peppers.
- Pressure cook for 4 minutes with a quick pressure release: Stir the bowl of browned sausage back into the pot, including any juices in the bowl. Add the penne pasta, 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and 4 cups of water. Sprinkle in the teaspoon of salt, then stir. Poke down any pieces of penne sticking up out of the water - if they’re not submerged, they might not cook. Lock the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes in an electric or stovetop PC, then quick release the pressure in the pot. Carefully open the lid - away from you, please, the steam in the pot is boiling hot!
- Stir in parmesan and basil, and serve: Stir in ½ cup grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil. Serve, topping with more grated parmesan and minced basil if you like.
- Substituting jarred peppers: I saw some recipes online that recommend jarred peppers - that’s fine, but drain them first, and don’t add them with the onions - add them with the tomatoes, since they are already cooked.
- Penne can be subbed out for any smaller tubular pasta. Ziti is almost exactly the same - just squared off ends instead of diagonally cut. Macaroni noodles would work too.
- Every now and then, the pot will start spitting starchy pasta water out of the vent when quick releasing. When that happens, close the vent - carefully, the steam is hot - to stop the quick release and the mess. Let the pot sit for five minutes to calm down before starting to quick release again.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Weeknight Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Italian
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
My other Pressure Cooker Recipes
My other Pressure Cooker Time Lapse Videos
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