Instant Pot Journey: Trash Night Penne

Trash Night…

… is the night I go through my fridge or freezer and pick one thing that’s been sitting longer than I’d like. It either gets cooked or tossed. On this journey, I eliminated frozen Italian sausages, 3 partial bags of frozen veggies, the remains of a container of sour cream and the last of a block of parmesan.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to go through what I learned… because this little experiment was a total win.

  • I stumbled on a recipe that told me to use 1 1/2 cups of water and 9 ounces of penne. Then it said, if the water doesn’t cover the pasta, add more. Aha! Is this perhaps a clue to eliminate the dreaded burn warning?
  • The author also said the recipe was developed for an “older” IP and the newer ones might get a burn notice… if that happens, skip step 2. Wait… what’s step 2? Bringing the sauce to a boil before adding the pasta and water. Hmmmm… another clue?
  • The recipe gave cook times, but it also said divide the time on the package by 2 and subtract 1. My package said 13 mins for al dente so I landed on 5 mins.

Trash Night Penne

This recipe makes enough to serve 3 adults with enough left over for another night’s supper.

  • 4-6 Italian sausages — I use a 1:1 mix of hot and sweet, but any combination will work
  • 2-3 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes — I use Tuttorosso’s Crushed Tomatoes With Basil. You can substitute a 24 oz. jar of pasta sauce, but you’ll need to thin it with 4-6 oz. water. Otherwise, it’ll be way too thick after you mix it with the meat.
  • 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • pinch of crushed pepper flakes (optional)
  • 16 oz. dried penne pasta
  • water — no less than the amount recommended for your Instant Pot but at least enough to barely cover the pasta
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen vegetables — I used peas, green beans and pearl onions, but kale and spinach also work well
  • 1 4 oz. can mushrooms (stems & pieces or chopped)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Set the IP to sauté and set the temperature to medium. On my 8-quart Ultra, medium is 194 ℉ / 90 ℃.

While the IP is warming, remove the casings from the Italian sausage. Break it up and throw it in the pot to brown. If you often cook with ground meats and you don’t own a Pampered Chef Mix ‘N Chop, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a time saver.

When the sausage is separated and about half-browned, mix in the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

Mix in the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. I don’t bother with draining the sausage unless it’s exceptionally greasy.

Set the sauce aside and keep warm. I have an extra inner pot so I just put a lid on it, move it out of the way and replace it with my clean inner pot.

With the IP still on sauté to start warming the clean pot, add the dried pasta and water. Don’t forget to add the amount of water suggested for your Instant Pot, then add more if necessary to barely cover the pasta.

Spread the frozen vegetables and mushrooms on top.

Ladle — don’t dump or pour — the prepared sauce on top of the vegetables. The sauce will be thick and heavy. If you just dump it in, it’ll sink and you’ll almost always get a burn warning.

Seal the pot, cook on high pressure for 5-6 mins for al dente and do a quick release. Since your sauce is still hot and you pre-warmed the inner pot, the Instance Pot can reach pressure in as little as 5 minutes.

Stir the pasta and sauce until it’s mixed well. You may find a few bits of pasta stuck to the bottom of the pot. It’s fine — they should easily dislodge with a wooden spatula.

Stir in the sour cream and parmesan.

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