My plan seemed so simple – use pressure cooking to get the flavors of a long-simmering sauce in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. I’ve already got a stovetop quick tomato sauce recipe – it will be easy to convert, right?
It’s time for another episode of “Why can’t I get this recipe to work the way I want it”?1
I sauté some onions and garlic, add spices, pour in crushed tomatoes, and lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Five minutes under pressure is not enough time for flavors to mingle; the sauce comes out like a salsa, with distinct tomato and onion pieces. Fifteen minutes is just right – the sauce is thick, like it was simmered all afternoon by an Italian Nonna.2
But…as I’m testing the recipe, every now and again, the sauce scorches on the bottom. I’m running right on the edge of overheating the pressure cooker; the thick, crushed tomatoes have just enough liquid to get up to pressure…most of the time. If the pressure valve doesn’t seal quickly, the heating element starts to burn the tomatoes before it switches from “high heat, bring to pressure” mode to “under pressure, low heat to maintain pressure” mode. To be safe, and to add more flavor, I add a half-cup of red wine before adding the tomatoes. Problem solved.3
Now, if it was just me and my wife, I’d serve the sauce just like it comes out of the cooker, with some chunks in it. But the kids? Chunks in the sauce? They’re not having it. I take my stick blender to the sauce, pureeing it right in the pressure cooker pot.
So, after some fiddling around, I have it. A quick weeknight sauce with minimal effort. It takes a little longer than my stovetop recipe…but it’s a much richer, fuller bodied sauce, with a lot less active effort. Once the pressure cooker is locked, there’s nothing to do but wait, and boil water for the pasta.
Video: How to make Pressure Cooker Quick Tomato Sauce – Time Lapse (1:30)
Pressure Cooker Quick Tomato Sauce – Time Lapse [YouTube.com]
Pressure Cooker Quick Tomato Sauce recipe – 15 minutes under pressure gives you a fantastic pasta sauce.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or dried basil)
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup red wine (or chicken broth, or water)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Sauté the aromatics. Set the pressure cooker to sauté mode (medium heat for a stovetop PC) and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the Italian seasoning, and the pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about five minutes.
- Add the liquid and the tomatoes. Pour in the wine (or broth, or water). Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any stuck bits of onion. Stir in the crushed tomatoes.
- Pressure cook for 15 minutes on high pressure. Lock the pressure cooker lid, then cook on high pressure for 15 minutes in an electric PC, or 12 minutes in a stovetop PC. Quick release the pressure by turning the pressure release valve. Once the pressure has dropped, remove the lid, tilting it away from you to protect yourself from the hot steam.
- Season, purée, and serve. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. If you like a chunky, rustic sauce, serve it as-is. If you want a smooth sauce, purée with a stick blender right in the pot before serving.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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