November 28, 2022

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Instant Pot Orecchiette – Recipes From A Pantry

Instant Pot Orecchiette is a delicious and easy-to-make Instant Pot pasta recipe. This flavorful and satisfying dish is ready in less than 30 minutes! 

Suitable for vegetarian diets. 

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the completed instant pot orecchiette pasta recipe

Orecchiette means “little ear,” and this small, ear-shaped pasta is flavorful yet firm enough to pressure cook without becoming mushy. Instant Pot Orecchiette pasta is paired with whipped ricotta and kale for a delicious main dish pasta recipe perfect for a casual dinner or a gathering with friends. 

Instead of a traditional sauce, this pasta makes its own creamy sauce as it cooks. You will also layer the pasta over a dollop of whipped ricotta for a creamy treat the whole family will love. Enjoy the recipe as is, or add Italian sausage for flavor and texture. 

Making orecchiette in the Instant Pot is incredibly easy, and you get perfectly cooked, flavorful pasta in less than 30 minutes. Just like this delicious Instant Pot Shrimp Scampi and this creamy Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta. #instantpotforthewin

a plate of instant pot orecchiette ready to be served

Why Make This Recipe

  • Simple Yet Elegant – This instant pot recipe comes together quickly for a simple meal that looks elegant on the plate. 
  • Easy to Customize – Add Italian sausage or diced or shredded chicken to make this a hearty meal, or toss in tomatoes, spinach, or broccoli rabe. Use ingredients you have on hand.  
  • Great Flavor – The pasta pairs with the ricotta for a great recipe the entire family will love.  
Instant pot quick start guide image

Ingredient Notes

  • Olive Oil – Or use your favorite light, neutral-flavored oil. 
  • Kale – Purchase chopped kale to remove the stems and chop whole kale into bite-sized pieces. 
  • Garlic – For the best flavor, mince fresh cloves of garlic. 
  • Onion Powder – Adds flavor.
  • Salt – To season.
  • Thyme – Fresh thyme leaves add a slightly lemony flavor. 
  • Dried Orecchiette  – Orecchiette is a small, ear-shaped pasta. You can use any small pasta. 
  • Parmesan – Use freshly grated parmesan. 
  • Ricotta Cheese – Use whole milk or part-skim ricotta. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes (Optional) – Add a pinch of chili flakes for a touch of heat. 
the ingredients needed to make instant pot orecchiette

Ready to make this Orecchiette pasta? Gather your ingredients and I will show you…

How To Make Instant Pot Orecchiette

Get the complete ingredients list and instructions from the recipe card below.

  1. Add oil to the insert of the Instant Pot and heat using sauté mode. 
  2. Add the chopped kale to the hot oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the kale has softened slightly.
  3. Stir in the garlic, onion powder, and thyme and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Pour in the water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Add the orecchiette pasta and salt. Stir and gently press the pasta down so it is fully submerged in water. 
  5. Place the lid on, turn valve to sealing position, and set it to manual pressure / high pressure for 4 minutes. When done, perform a quick pressure release, open the lid and stir in the parmesan cheese. 
  6. Scoop the ricotta cheese into the bowl of a food processor and add olive oil and salt. Blend on high for 4-5 minutes, or until the ricotta is light, fluffy, and smooth.
  7. To serve, put a dollop of the whipped ricotta onto a plate and top with the pasta and kale. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.
image collage showing the steps for making instant pot orecchiette

Pro Tips

  • Pressure cook for 4 minutes to cook pasta to al dente. The pasta will continue to cook through as you prepare the whipped ricotta. 
  • Swap the water for low sodium chicken broth for a more flavorful dish. 
  • Use whole wheat pasta if preferred. 
  • If you don’t have orecchiette, you can use another small pasta shape
  • If the sauce is dry, stir in a bit of cream, white wine, or chicken stock
  • Add some Italian sausage or shredded chicken to make this a hearty meal. 
  • Drain off any excess liquid from the ricotta before making the ricotta cream. 
  • Cooking times do not include the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure, or for the pressure to be released.
close up view of instant pot orecchiette on a plate

Delicious Variations

  • Use Spinach – Replace the kale with spinach. Instead of sauteing the spinach, add it to the pot when you add the parmesan cheese. Cover with the lid and allow the spinach to wilt for a few minutes before stirring it into the Instant Pot Orecchiette. You can also substitute broccoli rabe.
  • Add Meat – Sauté Italian sausage until no longer pink before adding the other ingredients. You can use hot Italian sausage or mild or sweet sausage. The pressure cooking time will remain the same. 
  • Add Tomatoes – Stir in diced tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
  • Swap the Seasoning – Use Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper to taste. 
one serving of instant pot orecchiette on a plate with a large spoon

Prep And Storage

  • Prep Ahead – Prepare the whipped ricotta up to 48 hours in advance. 
  • Store – Store the pasta and the ricotta separately in airtight containers in the fridge up to 4 days. 
  • Freeze – Freezing Instant Pot Orecchiette is not recommended.

FAQs

Can I Cook Orecchiette On Stovetop?

Yes. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside. Sauté the kale in a skillet, add the remaining ingredients, and toss in the cooked pasta. 

What Can I Use Instead Of Orecchiette?

Any small pasta noodle is a good substitute for orecchiette. Try using fusilli, farfalle or penne pasta.

Why Is My Pasta Dry?

When cooking pasta on the stove, I always reserve a little of the pasta water. When cooking in the Instant Pot, this isn’t possible. If the pasta is a little dry, stir in some heavy cream or a splash of white wine to loosen the sauce. 

the finished instant pot orecchiette pasta recipe

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Serving Suggestions

top down view of one portion of instant pot orecchiette on a table

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the completed instant pot orecchiette pasta recipe

Print Recipe

Instant Pot Orecchiette

An easy and delicious Instant Pot pasta dish with kale and ricotta.

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time5 mins

Total Time15 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, Western

Diet: Vegetarian

Servings: 4

Calories: 712kcal

Instructions

To make the pasta

  • Heat olive oil in the insert of the instant pot using sauté mode.

  • Add the chopped kale to the hot oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the kale has softened slightly.

  • Stir in garlic, onion powder and thyme and cook for an additional minute.

  • Pour in the water and then add the orecchiette and salt. Stir and gently pressing down the pasta so it is fully submerged in water.

  • Place the lid on, turn valve to sealinh position, and set to manual pressure / high pressure for 4 minutes.

  • When done, perform a quick pressure release, then open the lid and stir in the parmesan cheese.

  • Add ricotta cheese to the bowl of a food processor along with olive oil and salt. Process on high for 4-5 minutes, or until ricotta is light, fluffy, and smooth.

  • To serve, add a dollop of ricotta onto a plate, then top it with pasta and kale. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.

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Notes

  • Pressure cook for 4 minutes to cook pasta to al dente. The pasta will continue to cook through as you prepare the whipped ricotta. 
  • Swap the water for low sodium chicken broth for a more flavorful dish. 
  • Use whole wheat pasta if preferred. 
  • Use any small pasta noodle. 
  • If the sauce is dry, stir in a bit of cream, white wine, or chicken stock. 
  • Add some Italian sausage or shredded chicken to make this a hearty meal. 
  • Drain off any excess liquid from the ricotta before making the ricotta cream. 
  • Add a little crushed red pepper to the ricotta cream. 
  • Cooking times do not include the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure or for the pressure to be released.
  • Storage – store pasta and whipped ricotta separately in airtight containers inside the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • There are XX WW Blue Plan SmartPoints in one serving of this.

Nutrition

Calories: 712kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 1399mg | Potassium: 501mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3915IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 476mg | Iron: 3mg