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Pressure Cooker Pasta Bolognese

This is my go to method for pasta now, regardless of pasta style or flavouring. Trust me, it works really, really well. It's a super quick one pot wonder dish in my Ninja Foodi Max.

If you haven't done pasta in your pressure cooker (any type), do try, it was a game changer for me and you've missed a trick if you haven't tried. Today I'm making my vegetable Bolognese; I'm not using a mince substitute this time, as I like it just as much being veggie only, plus I struggle to find a gluten free version when shopping locally, If I was to use mince, the method would be the same, simply browning the mince first.

Today I'm using a mix of fresh and frozen veg, but anything goes. I'll often make this with frozen veg only and it's just as tasty, being even quicker to throw together. Use what you like. I haven't stated the quantities of most ingredients required as I've been making this for years, using my built-in trusty guesstimate mode of "chuck it all in and hope for the best". It's always worked. Throw in what you have, taste as you go and adjust seasoning if necessary, to get to the flavour and quantity that's right for you. It makes cooking so much more enjoyable than worrying about the weight of this, that and t'other.

Prior to having my Foodi, I've owned 2 traditional pressure cookers and been, quite frankly, too terrified to use them. I was so very frightened the first time I set this to pressure cook and my heart was hammering like mad the first time I vented it. I now use the function all the time - it's so convenient and quick.


I've added a little olive oil to the cook pot and am pre-heating on medium high sauté function, whilst quickly chopping my veg in a very quick (what I have long referred to as rustic) fashion.

I chuck in the onions first, then add some chopped (frozen) garlic, adding the mushrooms for 2-3 mins, before adding the rest of the veggies (leaving out the tomatoes for now). At this point I add 1/3 of a bottle of red wine. This fruity red from Tesco is perfect for cooking; sweet and full of flavour - it's also surprisingly drinkable (and is only about £3 a bottle!).


Decant into another bottle and serve to your friends when entertaining, they'll never know. Extra kudos will be earned for making up a valiant story about the grape, the making process, your wine merchant and the nose of the wine, i.e. talk cobblers and you'll wing it to perfection.

(double tip - hide the bottles well)

It's then a quick addition of everything else to the pot. I do quite a large batch which yields 4-6 servings at a time (I am incapable of making anything smaller) , so add a liberal scattering of yeast flakes, a dollop of marmite***, oregano and basil, lashings of freshly ground black pepper, a dash of smoked paprika and a good pinch of sea salt.

***If gluten free and coeliac you may need to leave out Marmite, chuck in more yeast flakes instead. I had been gluten free out of necessity for quite some time, before realising I really shouldn't be using it. I am an avid label reader, but it hadn't occurred to me it would be a problem as it had been a store cupboard staple for so long. It's the one thing I've continued to use as I haven't experienced any reaction. Usually, I can give it 10 minutes tops before my stomach starts it's protest, shortly followed by my skin flaring up and the beginnings of an arthritic flare.

I then add the gluten free pasta; is it Fusilli today? I can never remember the names but I do know the twirly whirly variety is one of my favourites. I stir in well and add boiling water from kettle until I can see the liquid level hovering slightly below the pasta.

Now I add the tomatoes!

I've found if I add tomatoes to my Foodi any earlier, the mixture sticks and an alarm sounds, stopping cooking; which is a monumental pain in the arse and doesn't make for a happy cook. It works perfectly if I bung any tomato or sugary based ingredients on top instead - and don't mix in! I wonder if the same happens in other pressure cookers?

Today, I'm using a combo of tinned and fresh tomatoes, plus half a tube of tomato puree. I also add a veg stock pot and a tbsp of redcurrant jelly now. If not using the jelly, I would add a tsp of sugar instead.

It doesn't look pretty at this point, but I promise it cooks beautifully. I now change the Foodi setting to pressure cook function, pop on the pressure cooker lid, setting the timer to 8 mins. The Ninja booklet states 7 mins for pasta, but I've found 8 works best for me - perhaps it's the gluten free variety that requires a little extra coaxing to reach al-dente?

It does take longer than 8 minutes to cook as the pot has to reach pressure, but it's still so quick, and you can forget about it whilst it does it's thing. You do have to listen out for the beep!

Once I hear the beep, it's time to release the pressure. I always knock the vent across with a wooden spoon as I am a pressure cooking coward. It takes about 2 mins for the pressure pin to drop allowing the lid to open, though I do sometimes prod the pin along impatiently by attacking it with my trust wooden spoon. It's window above open at this point to let out the steam.

And that's it! My one pot wonder pasta has taken about half an hour from start to finish, which includes my veggie grouping for artistic photographic purposes. A quick stir, a check on seasoning and we're good to go. In my normal cooking mode, this is less than 10 mins prep, 30 mins from thinking about cooking, to dishing up.

Before I had my Foodi, I relied heavily on my trusty slow cooker, which had been THE heavily used go to gadget in my kitchen for years. It's never come out the cupboard since. I feel quite sorry for it, but can't quite bring myself to part with it. I turfed it out recently, before realising there was the perfect space in my dresser. It will come in handy one day.

As usual I've made this a little in advance, as I prefer the pasta after it's sat a while and been re-heated, when it seems to develop a richer comfort food persona that is oh so satisfying.

This will also be supper tomorrow. I'll bung it in the fridge overnight and serve tomorrow with a salad bowl. Above photo is immediately after removing lid, after releasing pressure, below is half an hour later after leaving in the pot, Foodi switched off with lid kept on. All the juice has soaked in and it's smelling and tasting delicious.

If I was entertaining, I would make this in advance, reheat, then serve in my prettiest Mediterranean looking oven dish with some grated vegan parmesan and artfully arranged fresh basil leaves plonked on top (and pretend I'd been slaving over a hot stove all day). Tonight I will be slinging a huge dollop in a bowl, grabbing a spoon and sitting in front of the television with a tray on my lap, Waynetta style.

Will I ever entertain again?

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