Of all the things to make in an electric pressure cooker, pasta seems low on the list. Neither dense nor tough, it doesn’t require the kind of cartilage-melting tenderization you get under pressure. And since pasta cooks so quickly in a regular pot, you’re not going to save any time.
But nothing beats an electric pressure cooker in terms of convenience, especially when it comes to spaghetti and meatballs.
Before I got my cooker, spaghetti and meatballs was on the menu maybe once a year, much to the dismay of my pasta-loving tween. It’s not a hard dish to make, but it dirtied too many pans for the average weeknight meal, yet wasn’t special enough to gain weekend-project status.
The electric pressure cooker streamlines the process, reducing the number of pans from three to one.
It also eliminates the grease-splattering labor of standing by the stove frying meatballs. In this recipe, which is adapted from my cookbook, “Comfort in an Instant,” I don’t bother frying them at all, cooking the meatballs directly in the sauce instead. What you lose in browned, caramelized notes, you make up for in texture; these meatballs come out tender, and still imbued with the character of the marinara. Then, just to make sure no one misses the fried flavors, I dollop milky ricotta over the top for serving.
If you’re the kind of person who makes big pots of marinara and freezes it, or if you swear by a store-bought sauce, you can use 3 1/4 cups of it here. You’ll save 10 minutes that way, which is meaningful on any given Monday.
The meatballs here are cooked directly in the sauce.CreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times
This recipe is easy to dress up. Salt seekers can add some sliced olives or capers to the simmering sauce; anchovy fans might want to sauté a couple of fillets along with the garlic; those who adore melted cheese can grate in some mozzarella after the pressure is released. And bits of pancetta browned right at the beginning will never make a bacon lover sad.
Homey, adaptable and weeknight-simple, this isn’t a spaghetti and meatballs that’s going to stop conversation when you bring it to the table. But it is sure to elicit some grateful smiles.