There are few dishes as deeply, innately satisfying and comforting as spaghetti and meatballs. Though every nonna has her own recipe (likely consisting of precisely measured ingredients, like "a little of this" and "a little of that"), the basic idea is universal, and the outcome rests as much on skill in the kitchen as it does on quality ingredients. This is why we rely on Tuttorosso canned tomatoes, the best-selling Italian-inspired canned-tomato brand in the US.
Usually, the path to great spaghetti and meatballs is paved with hours of simmering, not to mention dirtying every pot, pan, and bowl in the house. We wanted to streamline the process to create a recipe that's not only quick enough for a weeknight, but also doesn't leave us cleaning the kitchen for the rest of the week. So we turned to one of our favorite time-saving appliances: the multi-cooker. (We especially love the versatility of an Instant Pot, but any multi-cooker will do.)
Now, before you get all worried about how tricky multi-cookers (by extension, the pressure-cooking function) are to use or the possibility of one exploding in your kitchen, you should know that pressure-cooking technology has changed over the years: Using one now is actually quite easy. With a few simple steps, it can help you accomplish a lot—very quickly. All you need to do is follow the directions, and in this case, our recipe.
After a lot of testing and tweaking, we came up with a recipe that requires no searing, simmering, or separate pots. The meatballs and spaghetti cook together in the Instant Pot for—get this—five minutes. Even counting the time it takes the cooker to get up to pressure and release, the total cooking time still clocks in at about 20 minutes.
A great recipe always starts with great ingredients, but that's especially true with pressure cooker recipes. And it's even more important here, because the spaghetti and meatballs absorb most of their flavor from the tomato sauce in which they're cooked. Make sure you know what to look for in a can of tomatoes—they're not all created equal. With Tuttorosso canned tomatoes, quality you can see leads to quality you can taste. Tuttorosso is family-owned, and the pride and care that come with that ensure that quality is the top priority. You can be sure no corners are cut—from the special Steam Seal Flavor-Loc™ technology that locks in fresh, vine-ripened tomato flavor to the non-GMO ingredients. This is why, for most of the year, we actually prefer high-quality canned tomatoes over fresh ones.
This Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs recipe is definitely one to keep in your back pocket. With dinner on the table in about 45 minutes and a quick cleanup, you'll be a supper superstar. If you're feeling ambitious, while the cooker is doing its thing, you can use that 20 minutes to make a salad. Or, just figure out which movie to stream after dinner.
Below is our recipe with specific instructions on how to use your Instant Pot at home (without any paranoia). Simply follow our directions and everything will come out perfectly. After your delicious spaghetti and meatballs adventure, you'll be wanting to use your Instant Pot for just about everything.
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
(Plus, Some Pressure-Cooking 101)
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Special Equipment: Instant Pot
1 pound (450g) lean ground beef (preferably 88 to 90% lean)
1 pound (450g) ground pork
1 egg, lightly whisked
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs (1/2 ounce; 15g)
¼ cup (60g) freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus 4 whole leaves and additional chopped basil for serving
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5g) kosher salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup (60g) minced shallot
1 (28-ounce; 800g) can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes with basil
8 ounces (225g) dry spaghetti, broken in half
1. Add ground beef, ground pork, egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped basil, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
2. Turn on the sauté function on the Instant Pot Add olive oil, garlic, and shallots and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent. Add Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and whole basil leaves and stir to combine. Remove ½ cup (120ml) sauce; mix with 1 cup (240ml) water and set aside.
3. Using your hands or an ice cream scoop, form evenly sized meatballs from meat mixture and drop into sauce, forming 2 layers of meatballs. Once sauce is rapidly simmering, turn off machine by hitting the "cancel" button.
4. Scatter spaghetti on top of meatballs and sauce. Pour reserved tomato-sauce-and-water mixture evenly over spaghetti and meatballs.
5. Secure Instant Pot lid, make sure valve is set to "sealing," and set cooker to manual high pressure for 5 minutes. (It should take 6 minutes to get up to pressure.)
6. Once it's done, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then move valve to "venting" to finish.* Once all steam has been released and pin has lowered, open pot, toss pasta and meatballs, and serve with additional grated Parmesan and chopped basil.
*Make sure to stay an arm's length away from the Instant Pot when you're venting. The first time you "vent" the steam, it'll be a little surprising. (There's a lot of steam to release!) But then you'll get the hang of it.
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