Pasta may not be the first thing you think of making in a pressure cooker, but don't overlook the culinary benefits of this technique. Pressure cooking speeds up cook time and infuses the pasta with tons of flavor since the noodles cook in the sauce.
What is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker isn't a new piece of kitchen technology, but it's not exactly a staple in every home. There are two types:
- Stovetop models are essentially a heavy stock pot with a locking lid and a pressure release valve.
- Countertop units incorporate a heating element around the locking cooking vessel, similar to a slow cooker.
Both designs use the same principles to cook food faster than conventional methods. They heat liquid until it evaporates, then the steam is trapped inside the cooking vessel. This raises the pressure inside the pot, allowing the temperature to rise quickly with very little extra heat. Early pressure cookers were known for their tendency to release hot steam unpredictably. Modern ones incorporate safety features that make them more reliable and convenient.
The Right Kind of Pasta to Cook With a Pressure Cooker
Some pasta dishes work well in a pressure cooker, while others don't; it all comes down to the size and shape of the pasta. Any short or medium cut pasta made from hard semolina is a good candidate, as long as it takes a
minimum of eight minutes to cook
. Pastas that cook in less than eight minutes on the stove, like angel hair, don't work well. These are the best options:
- Elbow macaroni
- Farfarelle or bow-tie pasta
As a general rule of thumb, cut the cooking time printed on the package in half. If the package instructs you to cook for eight minutes, the pressure cooker only needs four.
Turn on the pressure cooker and heat it as hot as it can get. Pour in the pasta sauce. Add dried pasta and make sure it's completely submerged. Cook at high pressure for half the time noted on the package. Then, turn off heat and wait 5 minutes before quick release. Serve and enjoy! Once you've mastered the art of cooking pasta in the pressure cooker, you'll be ready to start experimenting with new flavors and combinations.