This super simple and delicious instant pot creamy tomato cashew pasta is a favorite in our home because of its super-rich cashew creaminess blended with the slightly sweet and sour tomato-based sauce.
It is for sure my favorite for 4 reasons :
- All fresh ingredients, no packaged sauces.
- Super Quick and Easy.
- Last but not least yum yum and yum !!
This is a perfect meal for one of those days when you have barely any time to cook, your 2 year old is hanging onto your leg trying to get on the kitchen counter and explore the cabinets, you don’t want to get a take out or go out to eat, but still want to eat healthy. You know what am I talking about, right !!
This beauty ( you will understand once you make it and see the beautiful freshly whipped natural color of the dish) takes very few ingredients and 20 to 25 mins of total time including only 10 mins of active prep time.
As a mom of two young kids that is like a golden recipe for me for one of those busy weeknights or lazy weekend meals.Just add some broccoli or mushrooms or any veggies you fancy and may be some extra protein like frozen cooked shrimp and you will have a wonderfully healthy and yummy meal in no time.
Let's discuss some questions that you might have before making this dish.
Frequently asked questions:
Why use instant pot for pasta?
Making pasta in the instant pot is one of those many reasons I love my instant pot. It is super quick, extremely easy, mess free(no draining), no baby sitting while cooking, less dishes…. I can go on and on. Win win win and win !! It makes it a breeze to whip up a weeknight meal or a school lunch box in a flash.
I am using 8 qt instant pot. So I use manual mode. If you have a 6 qt or any other model of instant pot look for pressure cook button if you don't have manual mode.
Please bear with me for single serving recipe but am only cooking for my daughter today unlike usual. Please use the 1x, 2x or 3x buttons on recipe card to double or triple the recipe.
What kind of pasta should I use and how about pasta cooking times in instant pot?
You can use any of your favorite pasta. I usually use whole wheat rotini or whole wheat macaroni for this recipe.
General thumb rule for cooking pasta in instant pot is:
- For Al dente pasta ( regular or Whole wheat) pasta:
Manual cook time on high pressure = Half of the time given on the package - 1 min
- For softer cooked pasta:
Manual cook time on high pressure = Half of the time given on the package.
For this recipe it's important to cook pasta to al dente texture as we are going to cook the pasta in tomato cashew sauce after boiling it.
Once it is done, do a quick release by manually moving the steam vent from sealed to vent position after 5 mins, carefully staying away from the steam vent.
How can I increase the heat level in this instant pot creamy tomato cashew pasta?
Very good question because this recipe is very mild as it was made keeping everyone in mind especially kids. You can mix in ¼ tsp to ½ tsp of red chilli flakes to your taste. Add ¼ tsp at a time and check the taste to make sure you don’t add too much.
If I am making it for myself, I love to add one more garlic clove and a jalapeno or any kind of chilli pepper to the tomatoes and cashews before putting them for steaming in the instant pot. But keep in mind that it might sometimes increase the heat little more than you want because of varied levels of heat in jalapenos.
What Kind of protein or veggies can I add to this instant pot creamy pasta to make it a more balanced meal?
I love to add frozen cooked shrimp to this dish with the sauce after cooking pasta. However chicken should work wonderfully too. Just make sure to use small pieces of chicken (to make sure they cook in the same time as pasta) and brown the chicken in little oil or butter for 4 to 5 mins before adding the dry pasta for cooking.
Do I have to increase the cooking time if I am doubling or tripling the recipe?
Not at all. Use the same time given in the recipe for manual mode(pressure cook button in 6 qt) even though you are doubling or tripling the recipe as the instant pot will just take more time to build up the pressure. You might have to plan for little additional time than the given total time to start eating.
Step by step pictures of creamy cashew tomato pasta:
Here are some step by step pictures to give you an idea of how does it look in each step.
How long can I store it and how can I reheat it?
This can stay fresh for up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator in an air tight box. You can just heat it in the microwave when you are ready to eat. We don't own a microwave by choice so I usually heat it up on stove top in a pan. If you are heating it up in a steel pan like me, little tip to avoid sticking to the bottom is add little water before adding pasta and that helps in keeping the pasta creamy without it getting too dry or getting stuck to the bottom.
Why am I not blending the sauce ingredients raw and cooking everything together with pasta?
I tried doing that to make it a one pot dish but I liked this taste better than that and it really doesn't save that much of a time, may be just couple mins of difference. So I preferred deliciousness over couple mins😋
Is this instant pot creamy tomato cashew pasta vegan?
If you leave out the shrimp or chicken which are optional and don't use any cheese for garnish then this is totally vegan.
Instant pot Creamy tomato cashew pasta
- 1 cup whole wheat rotini pasta or any preferred pasta
- Water enough to cover pasta in Instant Pot
- 1.5 tsp olive oil
- ½ cup small cooked shrimp optional, skip if making the vegan version
For the Sauce
- 2 to matoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup cashews
- Salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon dry basil
- 1 tsp sugar add little more if tomatoes are too sour
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes optional
- Take a stainless steel container or any instant pot safe dish for pip(pot in pot) cooking, add pasta, salt and water in the main instant pot inner pot just until pasta is underwater and to the other pip container add sauce ingredients i.e quartered tomatoes, peeled garlic cloves, and cashews. Use a trivet to put the pip dish on top of pasta inside the Instant Pot inner pot.
- Now close the instant pot lid properly and seal the vent. Cook on Manual mode 4 mins high pressure for al dente pasta ( or if you are using a different kind of pasta use the thumb rule for cooking pasta in instant pot i.e Manual cook time on high pressure = Half of the time given on the package -1)
- Once the Instant pot is off, wait for 5 mins and do a quick release.( Don't wait for longer than 5 mins to do a quick release as pasta gets really soft).
- Let the sauce ingredients cool a little bit and blend them into a smooth puree. (If you can't wait, then add a few ice cubes or little icy cold water to blend them to avoid any heat damage to your blender)
- Discard any extra water in the inner pot after cooking the pasta and put it back in the instant pot and turn on the saute mode.
- Add 1 ½ tsp olive oil to the pasta in the inner pot, add the blended sauce and any preferred veggies( should be quick cooking like mushrooms or bell peppers or frozen mix veg small cut, etc.) into the inner pot. If you want to add any cooked shrimp you can add it at this point too. Skip shrimp if making a vegan version.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, ¼ tsp dry basil or ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves to taste, and 1 tsp sugar. ( don't forget that you already salted your pasta).
- Cook for 3 to 4 mins while stirring in between. Add ¼ tsp of paprika now. You can add little water if required to make sure the sauce doesn't get too thick before the veggies are cooked.
- Mix well and check the taste to see if it needs any more seasonings and if the veggies are cooked properly and turn off the saute mode. Creamy cashew tomato pasta is ready to serve. You can serve it with little parmesan and red chilli flakes sprinkled on top if you prefer.
- No need to increase the manual mode cook time if you are doubling or tripling the recipe. IP will just take more time to build pressure.
- This gives a little more than one serving or two small servings if you are using bigger cut like rotini. If you are using any smaller cut pasta like macaroni, it will yield usually 2 servings as we are using cup measurement for pasta and not oz. Please bear with me for one serving recipe but am only cooking for one today unlike usual🙂.
- If you are adding veggies like broccoli, then instead of cooking them with sauce on saute mode for longer, just cook for 3 to 4 mins until everything comes together and turn off the saute mode and close the instant pot lid and leave it for few mins. Heat inside will help cook the veggies to perfection.
- Its important to cook pasta to al dente perfection and not to softer texture initially as we are going to cook pasta again a little more in sauce.
- If you want to increase the heat level in the dish then add ¼ tsp to ½ tsp red chilli flakes or add one more garlic clove+one jalapeno to the sauce ingredients before steaming.(remember jalapenos are sometimes too hot in some seasons)
Don't forget to leave a comment below and let me know after you make it. Interested in making some Indian dinner recipes, then do check out Tomato coconut salmon curry Indian style or Garlic pepper mushroom masala.