Instant Pot Pasta Primavera + Cooking Pasta in the Instant Pot 101
Instant Pot Pasta Primavera with Broccoli, Carrots, Zucchini, & Asparagus | Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly
Light & Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe + How to Cook ANY Pasta in the Instant Pot
For a simple-yet-delicious one pot dinner that’s ready in just 20 minutes, try this healthy pasta primavera recipe on even the busiest of weeknights! Colorful, flavorful, nutritious—and this instant pot pasta primavera makes the process even easier by letting you cook your pasta and veggies together, at the same time. Say what?!
Most pasta primavera recipes require you to roast or sauté your spring vegetables while your pasta cooks in a separate pot. Or, you have to monitor your pasta as it cooks and add your veggies to the pot at just the right time so everything finishes cooking together. And sure, these methods aren’t all that complicated…
But, this instant pot pasta primavera recipe simplifies the process, takes the guesswork out of it, and is way faster. Just add your pasta, broth, and veggies to the instant pot—don’t even stir it—then close up the lid and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. After a quick release of the steam, stir in your cheese, almonds, and herbs, and this one pot pasta is ready to serve!
The result is a deliciously easy pasta primavera with perfectly cooked noodles, tender yet crisp veggies, and slivered almonds for a satisfying crunch. And, there’s NO cream in this recipe—the broth and diced tomatoes make for a refreshingly light, savory sauce. With a burst of natural sweetness from the diced prunes, this dish is full of springtime flavor!
Substitutions: Pasta, Veggies, & Keeping your Pasta Primavera Vegan
Scrumptious, satisfying, and EASY, this instant pot pasta primavera is a great option to pack more veggies into a dinner the whole family can enjoy. Plus, the recipe is SO versatile and easy to adjust with substitutions. You can swap out the penne for a different shape or type of pasta, and feel free to use whichever veggies you like.
And, you can keep this pasta primavera vegan and vegetarian simply by omitting the Parmesan cheese!
Penne is the classic shape for a pasta primavera recipe, but you can really use whichever shape you like! And, beyond classic pasta noodles, this recipe will also work with gluten free or whole wheat pastas, other whole grain varieties like quinoa pasta, or even bean and lentil pastas.
But, just know that the cook time may vary slightly, depending on the size/shape/variety of the noodles you choose. (Check out my instant pot pasta cooking time formula below in the How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot section!)
“Primavera” is the Italian word for spring, but you don’t have limit yourself to springtime veggies—you can easily adapt this healthy pasta primavera recipe with any veggies you like! I chose broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and zucchini for my instant pot primavera, but there are loads of other options you could try. Use up what you have in the fridge!
Just be cautious using starchier vegetables like potatoes or winter squash, because they will require a bit longer to cook until tender.
How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot – Cook Times, Tips & Tricks
If you’ve never made instant pot pasta before, NOW is the time. And, this instant pot pasta primavera is just the tip of the iceberg—your pressure cooker pasta possibilities are endless! I know, pasta is pretty darn easy to cook to begin with. But cooking pasta in the instant pot is just plain easier and way faster.
No more hovering over the pot while your pasta cooks, no more foamy water bubbling over into the stovetop, and no more guessing when the noodles are done. Just set your pot to cook and forget it, and you can have perfectly cooked pasta every time!
I’ve got a nifty instant pot pasta cooking time formula to help you figure out how to cook just about any variety of pasta in the pressure cooker that you like. Shout out to Pressure Cooking Today & Tidbits for their instant pot pasta formulas, which inspired this one, and for all of their awesome pressure cooker pasta guidance!
How Long to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot? Instant Pot Pasta Cook Time Formula
To figure out how long to cook pasta in a pressure cooker / instant pot—for any shape or type of noodle—you can use this simple formula:
Check the suggested cook time listed on the package, divide it in half, and then subtract 1 minute.
For example, let’s say a box of farfalle pasta (bowties) lists “12 minutes” as the suggested stovetop cook time. I’d simply divide that in half to get 6 minutes, and then subtract 1 minute to get my final instant pot pasta cook time: 5 minutes. Simple enough!
But, there are a few things to note:
#1 If the cook time is provided as a range, I generally use the lowest time in the range to do my math.
#2 If the cook time is an odd number, round it down to the nearest even number before doing your math.
Let’s use a real-life example this time: For this instant pot pasta primavera recipe, I knew I wanted to use whole grain penne noodles. I checked the suggested cook time on my box and saw that it was “11-13 minutes.”
So, I started with the lowest time in the range, which was 11 minutes—an odd number. Before doing my math, I rounded that down to the nearest even number, which was 10 minutes. Then, I plugged that into the formula by dividing it in half to get 5 minutes, and subtracting 1 to get my final cook time for the recipe: 4 minutes.
- If you’re like me and prefer your pasta more al-dente—not-so-soft, chewier and firmer to the bite—I recommend sticking with the lowest time listed in the range!
- But, if you KNOW that you always prefer softer and more tender pasta, you can use the higher time listed in the range to do your math if you like.
- Just be warned: you can always cook your pasta longer, but you can’t un-cook it!
Of course, this formula won’t be 100% accurate for every single type of pasta. And, cooking times can vary depending on your pressure cooker. But, whether you’re cooking regular or gluten free pasta, whole wheat or quinoa pasta, chickpea or buckwheat noodles, this formula is a great starting point!
As you experiment more with cooking pasta in the instant pot, you’ll get a sense of the ideal cook times for different types of pasta. If your pressure cooker pasta is a bit too soft or a bit underdone for your liking, make a note and try subtracting or adding a minute to the cook time on your next preparation! Adjust cook times as you find the sweet spot for your cooker.
Find more tips for cooking pasta in the instant pot below the recipe—like how much/which liquids to use, the best noodles to cook, and de-foaming hacks!
How to Make Instant Pot Pasta Primavera – in Just 10 Minutes!
To make instant pot pasta primavera, you’re pretty much just making pasta in the instant pot as you would normally—but with your veggies in the same pot! To start, add your pasta to the bottom of the pressure cooker and spread it out into an even layer.
I used whole grain penne when I made this instant pot pasta primavera, but you could use regular, gluten free, or even a bean/lentil based pasta—and feel free to use a different shape of noodle! Just know that I designed this recipe with whole grain penne in mind, so the cook time may vary slightly depending on the type/shape of pasta you use.
(See the formula provided above in the How Long to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot section!)
Next, pour in your broth—just barely enough to almost cover the pasta. In this instant pot pasta primavera recipe, both the canned tomatoes and veggies provide additional liquid as they cook. So, I find that your broth doesn’t need to completely cover your pasta for this dish, 1¾ cups is just enough.
Then, add your chopped veggies and diced prunes to the pot. Feel free to change up the veggies in your pasta primavera, and you can omit the prunes if you’re not a fan. But, even if you think you’re not a fan, I highly recommend giving them a try this time… The natural sweetness they bring to this instant pot pasta primavera is totally irresistible!
Finally, pour in your diced tomatoes and use a spoon to spread them out so everything is covered—but don’t stir to combine.
With your pasta, broth, and veggies in the instant pot, you’re ready to cover it up with the lid, lock it into place, and cook! Using the manual setting, set your cooker on high pressure for 4 minutes.
I came up with this cook time using my Instant Pot Pasta Cook Time Formula and the suggested cook time provided on my box of penne. (See above for how I did it!) And, since I’m using springtime veggies that cook fairly quickly, my entire dish will be finish cooking at the same time. Gotta love the convenience of the instant pot!!
After cooking, flip the quick release valve and allow the steam to release for 5 minutes.
It’ll still be steamy even after the quick release, so be very careful removing the pressure cooker lid! Then, you can stir in your last-minute flavorings—parmesan, slivered almonds, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some fresh parsley—and season to taste with salt and pepper. Give it a good stir, and your instant pot pasta primavera is ready to serve!
For Instant Pot Recipes Galore:
Try some of my other pressure cooker meals! My instant pot risotto is also vegan and vegetarian, but you might also like my:
- pot in pot apricot chicken and rice
- easy instant pot spaghetti and meatballs
- instant pot chicken fajitas
- healthy instant pot butter chicken and rice
- instant pot teriyaki chicken and rice
Healthy Instant Pot Meals for Spring (Vegan Options!)
Instant Pot Pasta Primavera
- 8 oz whole-wheat penne pasta, or regular, gluten-free, etc.
- 1¾ cups vegetable broth 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
- ½ cup carrots, chopped
- 15 spears, ~½ cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup zucchini, chopped
- ½ cup Sunsweet® Amaz!n™ diced prunes
- 1 can, 14-oz diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan, omit for vegan pasta primavera
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Add penne pasta to Instant Pot and cover with broth.
- Add broccoli, carrots, asparagus, zucchini, prunes, and diced tomatoes. Make sure everything is covered by the diced tomatoes, but don’t stir.
- Cover Instant Pot and cook on manual setting at high pressure for 4 minutes. After cooking, quick release the steam for 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove the lid and stir in remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Yields ~6 cups Instant Pot pasta primavera, 4 servings total.
Instant Pot Pasta Tips & Tricks, Con’t
How Much Liquid is Needed when Cooking Pasta in a Pressure Cooker?
- As a general rule, use just enough liquid to cover your pasta in the instant pot, no matter how big or small of a serving you’re cooking.
- If you need concrete measurements in your cooking, a good rule of thumb is about 1 cup of liquid per 4 oz of pasta—sometimes more, sometimes less. But, if your pressure cooker has specific minimum liquid requirements, be sure to follow those!
- To remove any extra liquid, simply drain your cooked pasta in a colander, or you can use a ladle to remove as much liquid as you want.
- If you plan to make a sauce, reserve some of that starchy cooking water to use in it!
What Are the Best Liquids for Cooking Instant Pot Pasta?
- Water and broth are the ideal cooking liquids for pressure cooker pasta. Broth is a great option that can soak added flavor into your noodles!
- You can also cook your instant pot pasta in a sauce—tomato-based marinara sauce, cream-based or Alfredo sauce, or whatever you like. But, since sauces tend to be thicker in texture, you may need to dilute them with a bit of water or broth to ensure there’s enough liquid in the pot. Otherwise, the sauce and starches might burn and stick to the bottom of your pot!
- If a sauce seems thin after cooking, turn off your cooker and be patient! Often, the pasta will absorb most of that liquid as it cools.
- Or, if there’s WAY too much liquid, press ‘sauté’ and simmer uncovered for a few minutes to boil off the excess and thicken up your dish.
What Are the Best Pressure Cooker Pasta Noodles?
- Shorter, medium-sized noodles are the best options for pressure cooker pasta because they cook through more evenly and don’t clump together. Options like penne, ziti, rotini, rigatoni, elbow macaroni, farfalle (bow-tie), cavatappi, and medium shells are solid choices!
- You absolutely can cook longer noodles like fettuccine and spaghetti in the pressure cooker. Some people advise against it because they can clump together, but I personally haven’t had any major problems!
- My tried-and-true strategy is to break longer noodles in half before adding them to the pot, and then use a spoon to submerge them in the liquid and spread them out a bit. Even when I notice some minor clumping after cooking, a gentle stir usually separates them nicely.
- You can also add a bit of cooking fat—about 1 Tbsp per 8 oz of pasta—to minimize clumping! I’ve had great success cooking longer noodles in dishes like my instant pot spaghetti and meatballs, in part because the fat from the meatballs helps to keep the noodles separate. For plain pressure cooker spaghetti or fettuccini noodles, try adding just 1-2 Tbsp of avocado oil or butter to the pot before cooking.
What Are the Worst Pressure Cooker Pasta Noodles?
- The WORST pressure cooker pasta noodles are small delicate pastas, stuffed pastas, gnocchi, and homemade pasta. In these cases, your pasta is likely to fall apart or overcook very easily in the instant pot.
- Instead of pressure cooking these more delicate varieties, it’s best to add them to the pot after cooking finishes, then hit ‘saute’ and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until the pasta has cooked through.
De-Foaming Hacks for Cooking Pasta in the Instant Pot
You know how the pot almost always foams and bubbles over when cooking pasta on the stovetop? Luckily, with pressure cooker pasta, you don’t have to worry about that mess! But, that foaming will still happen inside of the instant pot, and it may start to spray through the pressure release valve when you quick release the steam after cooking.
This isn’t always the case, but if it does happen, it’s okay! And totally normal—especially when cooking plain pasta in the pressure cooker with just water or broth. If you run into issues with foaming when you quick release:
- Simply flip the release valve back to the sealed position for about 30 seconds, then flip it open to release again, and repeat the process as needed. Usually 2-3 flips of the valve will do the trick!
- Generally, the foaming isn’t an issue when I’m cooking a recipe like this instant pot primavera with many different ingredients in the pot. And that’s often because some form of fat is in the pot as well—like oil or butter from sautéing, or meat that’s cooking with the noodles.
- But, you can also take advantage of this de-foaming trick when cooking plain pressure cooker pasta simply by adding 1-2 Tbsp of butter or oil before cooking!