You won’t believe this sauce is dairy free! This Instant Pot Vegan Pasta is made with penne, a creamy cashew rosé sauce, roasted red peppers and spinach. A simple yet impressive meal your family will love, whether they’re vegan or not!
People are loving the stove-top version of this recipe, so I just had to make an even easier version for the Instant Pot! Using the Instant Pot doesn’t save time overall (because nothing in the Instant Pot is actually instant haha), BUT you don’t need to stand over the stove and stir the pasta while it’s cooking. This version is more hands off, meaning you can walk away and do something else. Or relax. I call that a win.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Instant Pot Vegan Pasta. See the recipe card below for exact quantities and detailed instructions.
For the dairy-free rosé sauce
- Cashews – for best results, you’ll want to soak them. You can soak in water for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. As a shortcut, you can boil the water first and soak for just 20 minutes. Drain and rinse before adding them to the blender.
- Vegetable broth – you could also use water, but broth adds more flavour
- Tomato paste
For the pasta
- Olive oil – for sautéing
- Onion – yellow or sweet, small dice. Sautéing it adds nice depth of flavour to the dish.
- Garlic – for flavour
- Nutritional yeast – this ingredient adds a nice “cheesiness” to the final flavour of the sauce. You can skip it, but I find the sauce mimics dairy better when you include it. It’s also fortified with vitamin B12, which is an important nutrient to supplement in a vegan diet.
- Seasoning – oregano, sea salt and red pepper flakes. Be sure to adjust the salt to taste after pressure cooking. The amount you need to add will depend on the saltiness of your broth.
- Penne – one pound (worked out to about 4-5 cups dry measure). If you choose to use another type of noodle (a short variety is best), this will change the cook time. See my tips below.
- Roasted red pepper – I buy jarred to save time, but you could certainly roast your own!
- Baby spinach – because you can never have too many greens in a day!
- Fresh basil – optional garnish
Step one: Sauté and deglaze
Turn on the Sauté function on the Instant Pot. Heat the olive oil, then add the diced onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic, then turn off the Sauté function. Sauté the garlic in the residual heat for about a minute.
If you notice any food stuck to the bottom of the insert, add a bit of broth and use a spatula to scrape off any food stuck to the bottom. This is called “deglazing” and will help prevent a burn warning.
Step two: Layer pasta ingredients
Pour in the remaining broth (not including what you’ll be using to blend the sauce), add the nutritional yeast, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes. Layer the penne evenly on top, then layer the roasted red peppers on the penne. It’s okay if some of the noodles aren’t submerged in the broth. Do not stir.
Step 3: Pressure cook
Put on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 6 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure.
Step 4: Make the sauce
While the pasta is cooking, add the cashews, broth and tomato paste to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside until the pasta is done.
Step 5: Release pressure and add the sauce
At the end of pressure cooking, do a “controlled quick release”: rather than opening the vent all the way at once, let a bit of pressure out a time. This will prevent too much splatter (pasta tends to cause splatter, in general). I like to use a wooden spoon to make this easier.
Once pressure is released, open the lid, give the noodles a stir, then add the sauce. Continue to stir until the pasta is evenly coated, then stir in the spinach. Set the lid on top so the spinach can warm up and wilt, for 3-5 minutes.
Step 6: Serve!
Serve immediately with thinly sliced fresh basil, if desired.
Tips for success
Quick soak the cashews if you’re short on time. Soaking them in boiled water for about 20 minutes should be enough to soften them up.
Do not stir once you add the penne and roasted red peppers. This will help to prevent a burn warning. Just be sure the noodles are in a nice layer for even cooking.
Don’t skip the sauté. Technically you could just put everything in the Instant Pot and only do the pressure cook, but sautéing the onions and garlic adds great depth of flavour to the dish.
Deglaze the insert, if you find any bits of onion or garlic are stuck to the bottom after sautéing.
How do I substitute different types of noodles?
If you’d rather use a different type of noodle, no problem, you’ll just need to adjust the cook time. I do recommend a short noodle though, as they tend to have more success in the Instant Pot.
Pasta pressure cook time = lowest cook time on package divided by two. If the lowest cook time is an odd number, round down and divide by two. For example, a 9-minute cook time would round down to 8 minutes, then divide by two to get a 4 minute pressure cook time.
More pasta recipes
- Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta
- Instant Pot Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta
- Garden Vegetable Orzo with Chicken
- Instant Pot Chili Mac
Creamy Instant Pot Vegan Pasta
For the sauce
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup cashews, soaked 4 hours or overnight, then drained and rinsed (see note 1)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
For the pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, small dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste after cooking)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 lb penne (4-5 cups dry measure)
- 1 10-12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and thinly sliced
- 3 large handfuls baby spinach
- fresh basil leaves, sliced (optional)
- Turn on the Sauté function on the Instant Pot and heat the olive oil. Add the diced onion and sauté for about 3 minutes or until starting to turn translucent. Add the minced garlic, then turn off the Sauté function. Let the garlic cook about a minute in the residual heat.
- Pour in a bit of broth and use a spatula to deglaze the bottom of the insert (scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom to prevent a burn warning). Then, add the remaining broth, nutritional yeast, oregano, sea salt and red pepper flakes.
- Add the penne and make sure it's in an even layer (it does not need to be fully submerged in the broth). Layer the roasted red peppers on top of the penne. Do not stir.
- Close the lid and sent the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 6 minutes (see note 2). It will take 15-20 minutes to come to pressure.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cream sauce. In a high speed blender, blend 1 cup of broth, the soaked cashews and tomato paste, until smooth and creamy. Set aside until pressure cooking is complete.
- At the end of pressure cooking, do a controlled quick release of the pressure. (Controlled quick release means you let out a bit of pressure at a time, rather than opening the vent all the way. This will help to minimize splatter.).
- Open the lid, and give the pasta a quick stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour in the cream sauce and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. Add the spinach, stir again, then set the lid askew on the pot to wilt the spinach, about 3-5 minutes.
- Season with additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately with fresh basil garnish. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.
- You can also soak the cashews in boiled water for 20 minutes to save time. If soaking overnight, place in the refrigerator.
- If you want to use a different type of noodle than penne, here’s a rule for the cook time: take the lowest cook time on the package divided by 2. If it’s an odd number, round down and divide by 2. For example, 7 minutes would round to to 6, then divide by two for a 3 minute pressure cook time.
- Inactive time indicates the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and release pressure.
- This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot model.
- Recipe adapted from my One-Pot Vegan Pasta.
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