By Betha Merit King
After the holidays it’s nice to have some lower calorie meals to help us get back in shape and shave off some pounds. Luckily for me, I have a birthday in December, too. Knowing my happy exploration into one pot meals, I was gifted with the latest and greatest kitchen helper: an Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot cooks meals in less time by utilizing pressure cooker technology. Doing research, it is obvious there is a long future of fabulous discoveries to be made. For this article, we’ll touch on two pasta dishes, that are vegetarian. For meat lovers, you can serve baked fish or chicken breasts or lean pork tenderloin, cooked separately. There are a thousand more recipes that include meat, desserts, sauces, dips, and side dishes. The possibilities appear endless.
Veggie Walnut Pesto Pasta
- 4 cups water
- 8 ounces whole-wheat rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 1 8-10 ounce jar of prepared Walnut Pesto
- 1/2 cup baby arugula chopped
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 or more grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper.
Pour 4 cups water into Instant Pot, add the pasta and lentils, stir well to submerge for even cooking. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook to cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any residual pressure.
When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and press Cancel to stop the cooking cycle. Use oven mitts to remove the pot and drain the pasta and lentils in a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse with cold water. Dry the pot and clean anything off the sides and bottom, and return it to the Instant Pot.
Press Sauté and add olive oil to pot. Once the oil is hot, add tomatoes, zucchini, and artichoke hearts. Stir until softened (5 min.). Add the drained pasta and lentils chopped arugula and pesto sauce, tossing well to coat. Stir in Parmesan and pepper to taste.
Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
- 1 pound whole-wheat or regular macaroni
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower florets
- 4-8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- parsley and pepper for garnish.
Pour pasta into the Instant Pot and add 4 cups water, soy sauce, mustard and salt. Stir well to combine, then add cauliflower on top without stirring so the cauliflower layers completely cover the pasta. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.
When cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release residual pressure.
When floating valve drops, remove the lid and stir the pasta well, breaking up any pasta that has stuck together or to bottom (which is normal). Use your spoon to mash any intact cauliflower florets against the side of pot to help them dissolve into the pasta sauce. They will be hidden as part of the sauce.
Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and stir well. Adjust seasonings as needed.