Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pine nuts to your blender. Lemon juice is optional, but adds a subtle acidity to the pesto and brightens it up.
Add the cheese, salt, pepper and basil leaves.
Tightly seal the lid and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. If necessary, stop the blender and scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula halfway through.
Pesto Pasta in Instant Pot
Add pasta to the pressure cooker pot.
Add 2 cups water for every 10-12 oz of pasta, along with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and seal.
Cook the pasta for half the lowest package time minus one (see recipe notes). When pressure cooking is complete, do an Intermittent Quick Release (see recipe notes).
Reserve about 1/2 cup starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Toss the pasta in a large bowl with the pesto, adding a few tablespoons of the starchy cooking water until your desired consistency is reached. For best results and a creamy sauce, stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
Pesto Pasta on Stovetop
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and liberally season with salt.
Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente, or with a slight bite in the center. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Drain and toss in a large bowl with the pesto, adding a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water until your desired consistency is reached. For best results and a creamy sauce, stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
How To Cook Pasta In Instant Pot/Pasta Cooking Times:Since different pasta shapes require different cook times, here is what works for me:I half the lower number in the suggested cook time on the box, and subtract 1 minute from that. So, if a box suggests the cooking time as 10-11 minutes, I cook it for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot (10/2=5; 5-1=4).This produces pasta that is al dente, or firm to the tooth. For a softer and more tender pasta, simply divide the lower number in half.By following the above rule of thumb, here are a few of my favorite shapes and their respective cooking times in the Instant Pot:
Tortellini: Tortellini pasta has a cook time of 4-9 minutes. Take the lowest time (4 minutes), divide in half (2 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 1 minute
Penne: Penne pasta has a cook time of 10-13 minutes. Take the lowest time (10 minutes), divide in half (5 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 4 minutes
Rigatoni: Rigatoni pasta has a cook time of 10-15 minutes. Take the lowest time (10 minutes), divide in half (5 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 4 minutes
Spaghetti: Spaghetti pasta has a cook time of 8-12 minutes. Take the lowest time (8 minutes), divide in half (4 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 3 minutes. Make sure to break the spaghetti in half and lay it in a criss-cross pattern.
How To Release Pressure When Cooking Pasta - Intermittent Quick Release: Because of the starchy cooking water in pasta, it creates a big mess after a quick release when it sprays out of the pressure knob.To avoid this, I release the pressure in bursts. Which means, I press down or rotate the pressure knob gently to release pressure 1-2 seconds at a time, then stop. I repeat this until most of the pressure has released and its intensity has gone down.After that, when I do a full release of pressure, nothing squirts out of the knob.Recipe Tips for Basil Pesto Pasta:
Do not heat the pesto. This will ruin the flavor, color and texture of your finished sauce. The residual heat from the pasta will be enough to heat the pesto through.
Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. This is the secret many Italian chefs use when cooking any pasta entree. A few tablespoons of the starchy cooking water not only helps thin out the pesto sauce, but if stirred vigorously for 1-2 minutes, the starch naturally emulsifies with the sauce, creating a luxurious, creamy consistency.
Wash the lid and clean the pressure valve of the Instant Pot after cooking the pasta. Since the pasta starch and scum may have caused a blockage in the Instant Pot, this could affect the next cooking cycle. Make sure to wash it out with warm, soapy water.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates for 12 ounces of tortellini. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.