This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe has a rustic, Italian flare to it. With the addition of olives, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, and a hearty helping of mozzarella, this vegetarian wonder will have you drooling for days.
Have you ever made an Instant Pot pasta before? It’s ridiculously easy and the results will surprise you every time. You literally throw in the dried pasta and the sauce, press the button and walk away. And one of our favourite pasta dishes to make with the pressure cooker is a hearty mac and cheese.
Today, we want to share an Italian-inspired Instant Pot mac and cheese that comes with a few Mediterranian additions like olives, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. We like to think of it as a more sophisticated, grown-up mac ‘n’ cheese recipe BUT the kids will love it just as much as the classic. It’s hearty, delicious and perfect for those meat-free Mondays.
We are using elbow pasta, which is a classic shape for mac and cheese but you can use penne or fusilli pasta. This recipe yields quite a bit of pasta (6 servings) but it keeps well for leftovers and you can reheat it with a touch of water or milk, or turn it into a baked pasta slice.
We’re using a combination of cheddar (or other strong cheese) and a more mild mozzarella but you’re welcome to mix and match other cheeses in this dish. Here are some step-by-step pics to guide you along but the full instructions are below. We’ve divided the ingredients and the method into two stages to make it easier for you. You don’t need an oven for this recipe!
- 500 g / 17 oz elbow pasta (we love this brand)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 cup / 250 ml tomato passata or diced, tinned tomatoes
- 4 cups water (1 L)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional, can be less)
- 10–12 black olives, sliced
- 10 sun-dried tomato halves, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, diced roughly
- 1 cup almond milk or regular milk
- 1/4 cup tomato passata
- 1 cup grated cheddar or other strong cheese
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions/scallions (about 1–2 onions)
- 4 tablespoons of fried shallots like these
- Basil or parsley to garnish with, optional
- Stage 1.Combine everything in the inner pot, stir through and pop the lid on top. Lock and set to Manual, High for 4 minutes. After 3 beeps, the Instant Pot will start the cooking process. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes and then use the quick release method to let off the rest of the steam. Don’t leave the natural release for too long as that will keep cooking the pasta and you risk having a soggy mess!
- Stage 2. Add the diced olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, milk, extra tomato passata and half of the grated cheese to the pasta, and press the Sauté function key. Stir together for a minute or so, until the cheese has melted into the pasta. Add the rest of the cheese and stir in again for 30 seconds or so. Turn the Instant Pot off and serve the pasta topped with chopped green onions and fried shallots on top. You can add some basil or other herbs as well.