I’ve tried quinoa and steel cut oats. They’re okay but my new grain passion is farro. It’s akin to brown rice yet twice as nutritious. I like the nutty flavor and chewy texture. It also cooks more quickly than brown rice. Stovetop it cooks in about twenty-five minutes, but I cook mine in my pressure cooker. Pearled* farro cooks in five minutes with a natural pressure release. I cook up a double batch of plain farro and refrigerate it for later use in salads, heated for a breakfast cereal, or added to a recipe designed for rice, risotto, or orzo. I don’t flavor mine when I cook it, although you could. Give farro a try in any dish you’d typically use rice or risotto.
Hasty Tasty Farro
Makes 4 half-cup servings
- 1 cup Organic Farro (I use Italian Pearled)
- 2 cups filtered water (you can go a little shy of 2 cups in a pressure cooker because there’s no evaporation)
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker pot. Seal lid and bring to pressure.
- Cook under pressure 5 minutes. Remove from heat (hit cancel) and allow pressure to drop on its own.
- Carefully open pressure cooker and stir. Season as desired.
*Pearling removes the outer husks
Chicken noodle soup is the quintessential comfort food, especially when you’re under the weather. But why pay for sodium-laden canned soup when you can make your own? For this batch of soup, I used the Instant Pot. The recipe is good for any pressure cooker. If you modify it for the slow cooker, don’t use frozen ingredients.
Hasty Tasty Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 4 one-cup servings
I make my own chicken stock and store it in the freezer. I also keep a supply of frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Using a few pantry and crisper items, I can pull out a jar of stock and a thigh and have delicious chicken noodle soup ready in an hour.
- 1 tsp. cooking oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced carrot
- ½ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup diced bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher or pink Himalayan)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (I use Mrs. Dash garlic and herb)
- 1 frozen boneless skinless chicken thigh
- 1 pint chicken broth or stock (mine is frozen, but thawed will work)
- 1 pint water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 serving pot-sized linguine
- Preheat the pot (on the Instant Pot use the sauté button). Add oil when the pot is hot.
- Sauté onions, celery, carrots, and pepper for two minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
- Add the water. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot of fond left on the bottom.
- Add the chicken, chicken stock, and bay leaf.
- Seal lid and bring to pressure, either by using the manual setting for 30 minutes or the soup setting, which on my Instant Pot defaults to 30 minutes.
- When time is up, turn off cooker and allow pressure to drop on its own (approximately 15 minutes).
- Carefully open cooker. Using a long handled utensil, break apart the chicken and stir soup.
- Add the linguine, cover pot, and allow residual heat to cook the pasta through (approximately ten minutes)
- Remove bay leaf and serve. (If you have fresh herbs, add them before serving)
My family loves spicy food, especially Creole and Cajun. One of our favorite dishes is Dirty Rice. Traditionally, Dirty Rice is made with rice and leftover livers, gizzards, and hearts from poultry. There is plenty of bacon fat and butter, too. Because I’m the only one in the family who will eat liver, and because we try to follow a heart-healthy diet, I’ve had to lean up and clean up traditional recipes.
Here is my version of Dirty Rice. I use the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, but I’ve made it in my cast iron dutch oven, stovetop, too. Just add cooking time and a bit more broth if you aren’t pressure cooking.
Makes 4 meal servings or 8 side servings
- 12 ounces turkey sausage
- 1 Tbsp. safflower or Canola oil + 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups medium grain brown rice (white rice will overcook)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1/2 bell pepper, diced (should be green, but we like red)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat pot without the lid using the sauté setting. When it’s hot, add the oil and butter.
- Brown the ground turkey sausage.
- Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and rice. Sauté.
- Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning mix, remove from heat (hit “cancel”) and stir to “bloom” the spices.
- Pour in the broth and deglaze any cooked-on goodness to enhance flavor. Secure lid to cooker, and set for 20 minutes (If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook for 15 minutes).
- When cooking time is up, remove from heat (hit “cancel” and unplug), and allow pressure to drop on its own a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open lid and stir to fluff the rice.
- Taste test and add salt or pepper as needed.
- Serve as a side or main dish. Be sure to bake cornbread to go with it.
We love the spicy flavors of New Orleans style dishes, but we need to watch our waistlines. So I’ve lightened one of our favorites, red beans and rice, by using chicken sausage. I also serve with cooked brown rice instead of traditional white rice to boost fiber. By soaking the beans, I shorten the cooking time and avoid over cooking the sausage.
Although my recipe uses the pressure cooker, you can cook it stovetop. It will take more time, but either way, you’ll end up with a healthy version of New Orleans style red beans and rice.
New Orleans Style Red Beans with Rice
- 12 ounces chicken Andouille sausage, sliced in ¼” rounds
- 8 ounces dried red beans, soaked at least 3 hours or overnight
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Preheat pressure cooker pot and add the olive oil.
- Sauté the onions, peppers, and celery (known as the trinity in New Orleans).
- Add garlic and Cajun seasonings and stir for 30 seconds or long enough to “bloom” the spices.
- Add sausage and broth, and then seal cooker.
- Bring to pressure and cook 15 minutes (Or if using an electric pressure cooker, cook 20 minutes).
- Allow pressure to drop on its own at least 10 minutes.
- Release remaining pressure, carefully open lid, and serve in bowls over 1/2 cup brown rice.
*If you prefer tomatoes in your red beans (we don’t), stir in a can of diced tomatoes after cooking the beans as soon as you open the pot. (For fiery hot beans, use tomatoes and green chilies!) The residual heat will warm the tomatoes through without cooking them to mush.
Remember walking into Grandma’s house when she had cabbage cooking in her kitchen? The entire house smelled like rotten eggs, right? Grandma insisted that cabbage was good for you, though, and you should eat it. She was right! According to many sources (such as Good Health All), cabbage is effective in fighting digestive, cardiovascular, and blood sugar issues as well as serving as an anti-inflammatory and vitamin source. It’s a nutritional gold mine.
So why did it stink up Grandma’s house? She cooked it too long! Overcooked cabbage produces hydrogen sulfide gas, the source of that rotten egg odor. To avoid raising a stink in your house, don’t cook it like Grandma. Cook it fast. What better way to cook a vegetable quickly than in a pressure cooker?
- Quarter or shred your head of cabbage (or separate the leaves for cabbage rolls). Wash and drain.
- Add 1½ cups filtered water to the bottom of your pressure cooker pot. If using an electric pressure cooker, set for 5 minutes.
- Place cabbage in a strainer or steaming basket placed over the cooking water on a trivet or rack.
- Seal cooker. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to pressure and then time for 3 minutes.
- After the 3 (5 on electric) minutes under pressure, remove from heat (select “cancel” on the electric model). Carefully release pressure.
- Open the cooker and season the cabbage with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar*.
- Carefully remove the cabbage and serve.
(*Just a pinch. It’s optional, but Grandma was right about the sugar. Trust me.)
That’s it. If you quickly cook cabbage just until done, you won’t stink up your kitchen. Promise.
NOTE: Pressure cookers vary, so your cooking times may, too. The 5 minutes works on my particular electric model, and the 3 minutes is perfect in my stovetop pressure cooker. You may need to adjust your cooking time.
I try to cook with fresh ingredients. Usually. But sometimes–you know those times when you’ve been working and suddenly you’re faced with a hungry family without a dinner plan–you’re tempted to order pizza. Again. Been there, my friend. So without apology, I present the emergency one-dish meal using (gasp!) canned condensed cream of whatever soup.
All you need in addition to the soup is pasta or rice, some leftover (or canned) meat and/or vegetables, and cheese. There are endless combinations, and any combo produces a reasonably healthy meal in a short time. If you make it in one pot, cleanup isn’t overwhelming, either. One-pot meals are a great use-up of leftovers, too, like that one serving of green beans or that half cup of corn kernels you just couldn’t bear to put down the disposal.
I use a pressure cooker, but I’ve also made this dish in an electric skillet. Whatever works best for you.
Here’s an example, but feel free to substitute ingredients you have available.
Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 10½ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 10 oz. chicken broth or water
- 1 cup dried cavatappi or similar size pasta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh asparagus, sliced in 2″ pieces
- ½ cup mushrooms
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh basil, chopped
- Layer the cooked chicken in the bottom of the pot of a pressure cooker. Spread pasta on top the chicken.
- Pour the soup and broth or water over so that all pasta is submerged in liquid. Scatter the minced garlic on top.
- Close lid, bring to pressure, and cook 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (or hit Cancel on electric models) and release pressure. Carefully open lid and stir in the vegetables.
- Cover and let the vegetables cook in the residual heat. There’s no need to return to heat.
- After about 10 minutes, open and sprinkle cheeses over the top. Cover for another 3-5 minutes or until cheeses have melted.
- Serve garnished with optional fresh basil.
Cheese melts in residual heat.
Makes 5-6 servings.
We love Mexican flavors and Southwest cuisine, and I love pressure cooking, so here is my version of a spicy taco bowl. It’s faster than messing with taco shells and making filling, so it’s a hasty and tasty meal for taco night. Enjoy.
Chicken Taco Bowl
Makes 5 – 6 servings
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (frozen or thawed)
- 1 cup dried black beans (not soaked)
- 1 cup brown long grain rice
- 12 ounces salsa or 1 regular size can Rotel® diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 2½ cups chicken broth or water
- 1 ounce chili or taco seasoning mix
- 8 ounce block Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh cilantro sprigs
- In the pot of a pressure cooker, place chicken, beans, and rice. Pour salsa and broth over them. Add 1 ounce chili seasoning mix.
- Seal and bring to pressure. Cook 18 minutes (stovetop) or 23 minutes (electric).
- Remove from heat (or hit “cancel”) and allow pressure to drop on its own. Natural depressurization takes approximately 15 minutes.
- Carefully open cooker and stir. Chicken should easily shred, or you may remove it, shred it separately, and stir it into the rice and beans mixture. Top with cheese and cover. Do not return to heat.
- After a minute or two, the residual heat will melt the cheese and the taco bowl is ready to serve with optional garnish.
Variation: add 1 cup frozen corn kernels before adding the cheese.