Tomato Basil Penne; Garlicky and Spicy (IP Recipe)

Happy New Year!

Lunch today is a one-pot easy to make, indulgent and comforting warm hug of a pasta dish. It is one of those recipes that is so simple with only a few ingredients, which infact makes it all the more delicious! Here is my garlicky spicy tomato basil penne.

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Ingredients:
Serves 6-8

1 lb penne (I used whole grain pasta)
1 large red onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 serranos, finely chopped (I use seeds and all; it makes up the “spicy” in the dish, but it is optional if you want to avoid spice)
1/3 cup roughly torn fresh basil leaves + 1 tsp for garnish
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 large juicy tomatoes, diced
4 cups fresh baby spinach
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coarse kosher salt (use sparingly depending on the type of salt you use)
1/3 cup reduced fat milk (This is just to finish the dish and give the sauce a smooth silky velvety finish;  use any nut milk to make this dish vegan!)

Method: (Instant Pot)
Turn on Saute mode in the Instant Pot, set to “More” indicating highest heat for sautéing. Add the measured olive oil, and wait about 30 seconds for heat to ramp up. Now add in garlic and serranos and fry about 20 seconds until the garlic starts getting slightly golden brown. Add chopped onions and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions soften considerably.

Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes break down and create a chunky sauce. This will take about 10 minutes. Add measured salt, fresh chopped basil, spinach and toss together well. Cook this for about 5 minutes, until the spinach starts wilting.

Add in the pound of dry pasta directly from the box and toss together again making sure all the veggies and bits from the bottom are mixed evenly along with the dry pasta.

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The keys to making perfect one pot pasta are measure of water and cooking time.

Water:
The measure of water that I find works perfectly is adding liquid just until it comes up to the surface of the ingredients in the pot (below picture – top right). This technique works for any veggie, any quantity of pasta or type of pasta you use since the water is relative to whatever veggie/pasta quantity you’ve created.

Cooking Time:
Exactly half the cooking time of what is on your box of pasta (which you’d normally use for the stove top cook and drain method). My whole grain penne box said 10 minutes, and I set Manual, and 5 minutes. This method works like magic every single time resulting in perfectly al dente pasta with a spectacular bite to it! If you like your pasta on a slightly softer side, you could add 1 minute more to whatever your number is.

Back to the recipe:
Once the measure water is added, add crushed red pepper, mix well and turn off Saute mode. Cover with the Instant Pot lid, set to Sealing position. Set Manual mode, and set 5 minutes. Let IP do its magic.

Once the IP finishes cooking and you hear the beeps, there is no resting time. Make sure you open the vent to Venting position immediately. Please be very careful as you are releasing extremely high pressure steam.

Once all the steam is released, open the lid, and add a dash of milk to the pasta. Mix well, but be gentle. Let rest open for about 10 minutes and let all the flavors meld together.

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Serve hot with more fresh basil on top.

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