Preheat the cooker by selecting Saute. Wait 30 seconds and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced peppers and onions. Saute 2-3 minutes, until they soften. Cancel Saute. Remove onions and peppers and keep aside for later.
Add water, 1 teaspoon olive oil and all the spices to the pot. Give it a stir. Add pasta and push it down under the liquid.
Spread the chicken pieces all over the pasta. Spread the salsa over all over the chicken. Don't stir and close the lid.
Pressure cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, followed by a quick pressure release as per your cooker instructions (see notes for pasta cooking and pressure releasing instructions).
Open the lid after the pin drops. Add the sautéed peppers and onions to the pot and give it a stir.
Stir in the cheese. Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
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 a few shaped, short-grain pastas and their respective cooking times in the Instant Pot:
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
Fusilli: Fusilli pasta has a cook time of 10-13 minutes. Take the lowest time (10 minutes), divide in half (4 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 4 minutes
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 (Ultra) or rotate (Duo) 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.
Chicken Fajita Pasta on the Stovetop:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the peppers and onions for 2-3 minutes. Remove and keep aside for maintaining their shape and crunch.
Add water, remaining olive oil, spices and stir. Bring it to a simmer, add the pasta and push down under the liquid. Note: You may need an additional 1/2-3/4 cup liquid for the stovetop version in order for the pasta to be fully submerged.
Spread the chicken over the pasta, then pour the salsa over the chicken. Don't stir.
Cover with a tight lid and cook for 10-12 minutes (or as pasta package instructions), stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat. Add the sautéed peppers and onions, stir in the cheese, garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
Saute the peppers and onions first, remove from the Instant Pot and then add back in at the end. I don't recommend pressure cooking the peppers and onions with the pasta and chicken as they tend to get mushy. Adding the vegetables in at the end keeps their texture and integrity.
Make sure to keep the chicken pieces similar in size, roughly 1-inch pieces. When the chicken pieces are all the same size, they fully cook at the same time.
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Follow the Rule of Thumb for cooking pasta in the Instant Pot (see Notes above). I delve deep into the subject in my Basil Pesto pasta. But for a quick lesson, take the lowest cooking time of 10 minutes (penne has a cook time of 10-13 minutes), divide in half (5 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 4 minutes. This will produce a penne that is al dente. For more tender pasta, simply divide the lowest time in half.
Make sure to perform an Intermittent Pressure Release (see Notes above). To do so, simply release the pressure in bursts. Press down (Ultra) or rotate the pressure knob (Duo) gently to release pressure 1-2 seconds at a time, then stop. Repeat this until most of the pressure has released and its intensity has gone down. Then do a full release of pressure. At this point, nothing should squirt out of the knob.
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. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.