Last summer my husband was out of the country for work. I had never had the patience for Amazon Prime day before. But that day was the perfect storm: my daughter was down for a nap, I was a little bored and lonely, and it was Amazon Prime Day. I scrolled through sales on items I didn’t really need or want. My Facebook feed was lighting up with comments about the incredible sale on Instant Pots.
What’s an Instant Pot?
At 12:30 on Amazon Prime Day I had never heard of an Instant Pot, by 1:30 I was the newest owner of this 8-quart 7 In 1 Instant Pot ($139.95, Amazon Affiliate Link). In the mean time, I had learned that an Instant Pot was an electric pressure cooker. It had a locking lid and cooked at slightly lower pressure than my grandmother’s stove top pressure cooker. Best of all, it was fully programmable. Before it even arrived, I had joined an Instant Pot community on Facebook and learned about the water test and pot-in-pot cooking.
Dinner in an Instant…Pot
In the last year, we’ve used our Instant Pot nearly once a week. It’s my go-to for rice, eggs, and Indian food. I’m always looking for recipes and trying to adapt standard recipes for the Instant Pot. A few weeks ago, I attended a pasta making party for charity. I wanted to come home and eat my homemade pasta while it was still fresh. How could I make fresh sauce on a week night? Enter the Instant Pot! I researched several bolognese recipes and played around with several methods to develop this Instant Pot Weeknight Bolognese that can be on the table in 45 minutes with only 10 minutes of hands on time.
Weeknight Instant Pot Bolognese – 4 Freestyle Points
This recipe makes a rich bolognese sauce that tastes like it’s cooked on the stove for 2 hours, but in 30 minutes! Best of all, it’s only 4 Freestyle points. Serve with pasta or over zoodles or butternut squash noodles for a low point dinner.
1 T olive oil
1 small onion – diced
3 carrots – diced
3 celery stalks – diced
crushed garlic to taste
1 pound ground beef
1 cup (or so) of red wine
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/3 cup reserved cooking water
- Press saute on the Instant Pot and add the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to soften. Then add the carrot and onion. Salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring once.
- Add the ground beef and red wine. Salt and pepper lightly.
- Pack the ground beef (yes, it’s still raw) in the bottom in a thin layer. Place the Instant Pot lid on, set the lever to “seal”, and cook on Manual, High Pressure, for 2 minutes. Allow to natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Release the steam and remove the lid.
- With a wooden spoon, break the ground beef up into small pieces. Smash up those carrots in the process.
- Add the canned tomatoes and bay leaves. Salt and pepper lightly to taste.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Set the lever to seal. Cook on Manual, High Pressure, for 15 minutes. Allow to natural pressure release for 10 minutes (or longer). This is a great time to cook your pasta. When your pasta is ready, remember to save 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining. Release the steam from the Instant Pot and remove the lid.
- Stir in the half-and-half and cheese if you’re adding. Stir well.
- Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and stir well again. Enjoy!
Makes 6 generous servings (about 1/2 cup).
For more Instant Pot recipes, check out my Instant Pot Bone Broth recipe.