Instant Pot Pasta with Lemon Herb Ricotta

It’s a recipe we call Spaghetti Bites, which is a cute and easy way to make spaghetti.

It’s normal to call this “Instant-Pot Pasta and Meatballs,” but since it looks like real spaghetti and meatballs and reminds me of an enormous bowl of spaghetti-O’s, and I have two children under the age of four, it’s hard not to call them Spaghetti Bites.

The whole thing is like a big hug: little bites of pasta with meatballs and a caramelized tomato sauce that almost browns on the bottom. The whole thing gets a little blingy with the addition of some lemon ricotta that is packed full of fresh garlic. And everything else in your pantry, such as salt, pepper, and basil, also shines. Sweatpants, fork, deepest pasta bowl, let’s go.

Do you have to use the Instant Pot for everything?

Nope! You can cook the pasta as you would regular pasta and then add it to your meatballs and sauce. It is not necessary to have a recipe, but you may want to look at the notes section if you are interested.

The Instant Pot is my favorite for making this pasta because it makes it extra thick and starchy, and the sauce at the bottom almost caramelizes. A quick pressure cooker makes the meatballs super tender, while the pasta is nice and springy and not mushy.

What type of pasta to use for this recipe

Ditalini is the pasta I would choose if you asked me, a random Minnesota mom with a food-blogging blog. It is a tubular pasta that looks like miniature rigatoni. It’s true; even though it isn’t rounded like a rigatoni, the shape does transport you back to an old retro kitchen with a large bowl of spaghetti-O in front of it.

My ditalini is DeLallo, but I’ve also seen them in other stores around the Twin Cities. The DeLallo ditalini is a great snack to have when you need something quick and easy. You know, it’s all in the details. You know, like the extra ridges in your ditalini. Who knew?

How to Customize this

There are millions and thousands. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use arrabbiata, a spicy tomato sauce that can be purchased or made at home.
  • Add capers, olives, or anchovies to the tomato sauce for a more puttanesca-like taste.
  • Blend cashews with red peppers for a red-pepper sauce like the one.
  • You can use meatballs from the store, sliced sausages or ground beef, or a can of white beans as a vegetarian alternative.

What You Need to Know about “The Creamy Element

The topping can be anything that makes the dish creamy, garlicky, and bright.

The pasta, as written, is heavy and savory. It’s the contrast between the creaminess of the garlic and the freshness and zest of the herbs that makes this dish worth blogging about.

What can you use as the base for the creamy element?

  • Mascarpone (creamy and buttery), dense, melty, and dense.
  • Ricotta cheese – is easier to find and less melty than mozzarella, but it is similar to lasagna, which is good.
  • Garlic herbs spreadable cheeses like Alouette or Boursin are great for those SOS moments. The Alouette brand contains flecks of garlic and dried herbs. I add some lemon zest, and it is ready to use.

How to add more vegetables to this

Three approaches are possible here. One is to add the vegetables directly to this dish and then cook them in the sauce. You can sauté some vegetables (minced peppers, carrots, etc.). Add your meatballs to the sauce and veggies at the start of the cooking process. You only need to cook the whole thing for 3 minutes, so there’s no risk of overcooking your vegetables.

The second would be to do my favorite add-veggies-to-pasta-dish hack and stir in some fresh spinach or frozen peas into the cooked pasta at the end.

The third option, and what I would personally do, is to keep the recipe as it is but add some vegetables to the side. This is a good idea if we’re going to be eating a meal together. It gives you another option that will change the color, texture, etc., on your dinner plate. It’s a good way to finish off the meal.

If you’re short on time, I recommend Liz’s roasted broccoli. The house favorite brussels sprouts or A simple green salad. And the simple green salad is a favorite of my girls. It’s a super-fast salad that is perfect for getting some greens in your belly and on the table.


Pasta and Meatballs

  •  1  2 The following are the ingredients ta:blespoons of Olive oil ( 2 If your sauce is low in fat, it will be especially effective.
  •  1/2 to 1lb. Frozen chicken meatballs: If you are eyeballing, about 2 cups of meatballs (or any other pre-made ones – I used those that were already cooked).
  •  One can find out more about this by clicking here. 32 Your favorite -ounce jar of tomato pasta sauce
  •  One chicken broth
  •  1 1/2 Small pasta – I like to use ditalini
  •  Salt You can also find out more about the following: Pepper Taste

Herbed Lemon Ricotta

  •  1 Pound Fresh Ricotta- Mascarpone tastes great and is more creamy/melty!
  •  Juice of 1 Lemon + a little bit of zest
  •  One finely grated clove of garlic
  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  •  1 cup mix of finely chopped parsley, chives, and basil
  •  Salt You can also find out more about the following: Pepper Taste


  1. Put meatballs into the Instant Pot and drizzle with olive. The meatballs don’t have to be completely thawed, just a little browned.
  2. Add the following in order: sauce, pasta, and chicken broth. Do not stir. Cook at high pressure for three minutes.
  3. Release steam immediately (so that your pasta does not overcook or become mushy). Stir to combine. It’s normal for the sauce to stick, but a gentle stir will help it come together. The sauce will initially be very saucy, but if you allow it to rest for a few moments, it will soak into the pasta. You can eat it either way.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, combine your herbed ricotta and other ingredients.
  5. Serve the pasta hot in bowls and top with dollops of ricotta. Mwah!

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