We infuse tons of flavor into this healthy spaghetti sauce in just a short time by pressure cooking it! This dinner is not only healthy, it's quick to make!
There are no noodles in this recipe, instead you can serve it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
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In fact, you make either one at the same time as you pressure cook your sauce. Now, that's amazing!
Of course, you can serve this healthy spaghetti sauce over pasta as well! In fact, you CAN cook the pasta at the same time and I'll tell you how.
One of my most popular recipes is my Ninja Foodi Spaghetti recipe. It gets rave reviews from pretty much everyone! However, there are definitely people who do not want their pasta cooked in their sauce, so I began testing recipes for pressure cooking the sauce WITHOUT getting the water or burn notice. I'm happy to say I succeeded with this healthy spaghetti sauce!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, absolutely. Simply double the ingredients and use the same pressure cooking time.
Yes. I don't recommend freezing the zucchini noodles, but the sauce is fine to freeze. Let it cool completely before freezing and get as much air out of the freezer bag or container as you can. This will reduce the chance of ice crystals from forming as it freezes.
You have to have a thin liquid to be able to create the steam required to put the pot under pressure. In this recipe, the liquid in the diced tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes, along with the juices from sautéing the turkey are enough to build the steam needed. You can add ¼ cup of additional liquid if you want, but I didn't find it necessary on any of the 5 batches I made.
Looking for more healthy Ninja Foodi recipes? Check out these recipes!
Why do I get the Water Notice on the Ninja Foodi when there's Plenty of Liquid in the Pot?
That question comes up all the time in my Facebook group, Ninja Foodi 101. You need a THIN liquid to come to pressure, not thick like a tomato sauce.
The other reason the water notice might be triggered is when something is stuck on the bottom of the pot and is burning. You might open the pot after getting the notice and see plenty of thin liquid. Simply scrape the bottom of the pot to remove whatever is stuck and you can go back under pressure.
If a sauce has burned to the bottom, do not scrape it. Instead pour it out without disturbing the burned sauce. Clean the pot and then return your sauce to the pot. This way the burned flavor will not go through your entire sauce and hopefully dinner is salvaged!
I go into great detail about pressure cooking in this article and it is definitely worth reading: Pressure Cooking 101
I'll summarize here and say that in order to create pressure, we need to build steam. Steam is what seals the pot, and then the contents are under pressure.
For example, if you are heating a pot of water on the stove, when it boils you will see a lot of bubbles and steam. However, when you heat a pot of tomato sauce, those bubbles are smaller and they sort of burst free from the surface and pop all over the place if the heat is too high. This is because the heat at the bottom of the pot is heating the tomato sauce up to a boiling temp (if the heat is high enough), but the steam created cannot easily break through the surface because the liquid is thick. When they do make their way to the surface they tend to pop and splatter.
It's also very easy to scorch the bottom of tomato sauce or pasta sauce if we aren't watching it on the stove. The same is true in the pressure cooker, but we can't see it happening until it's too late and that water notice pops up.
Burnt pasta sauce isn't very good, so we try to avoid that notice at all costs. Plus, it's a big time waste. You have to shut the pot off, release the steam, fix the problem, and resume. No one wants to do that. So, read my article and you will have much less of a chance of getting the water or burn notice in the future!
I'm one who likes to test the boundaries and push the limits when it comes to cooking, so I wanted to see if I could make a thick and flavorful spaghetti sauce under pressure. Turns out you can!
I decided to make this one a healthier version using ground turkey, but you can certainly use ground beef, ground sausage, or omit the meat all together.
Can I make this Healthy Spaghetti Sauce and cook the pasta with it?
Yes, you can do that very easily. Simply make the following changes.
Add in 4 cups of liquid in addition to the sauce ingredients. I recommend chicken or beef stock for the best flavor. Then fan your noodles in a criss cross fashion over the top and press them down gently to get as many into the liquid as possible.
I would ONLY use 8 ounces of spaghetti unless you doubled the base sauce ingredients. Then PC for 3 minutes with a 3-minute natural release. You may need to add more than 6 ounces of tomato paste and you will definitely need to adjust your seasonings to taste because I think the flavor will be diluted.
I have not tested the recipe with cooking the pasta in the sauce, so please let me know if you try it and how it turns out!
Can I make your original Ninja Foodi Spaghetti Recipe without the Pasta?
This is a hard one for me to answer having not tested the recipe that way, but if you make a few changes, I think you can.
I would add ½-1 cup of liquid in addition to the spaghetti sauce and canned tomatoes to make sure you have enough liquid to come under pressure. The tomato paste will help thicken up the sauce.
Or, you can use fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes instead of sauce, like I did in this Healthy Spaghetti Sauce recipe.
Keep in mind that there is very little evaporation during pressure cooking, so using all fresh tomatoes can result in a very runny sauce. The only time evaporation is happening is during the pressure building time. Once the pot seals, all the liquid stays right there until you release the pressure.
When cooking fresh tomatoes on the stove for a spaghetti sauce, we rely on evaporation to cook down the tomatoes and reduce the sauce. You would want to use the sear/sauté function on the Ninja Foodi when using all fresh tomatoes for your spaghetti sauce.
Can I make Spaghetti Squash instead of Zucchini Noodles at the same time as the sauce?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, I meant to do that in the video instead of zucchini noodles and it completely slipped my mind!
I'm so used to serving the healthy spaghetti sauce over zoodles that I instinctively grabbed them instead of the spaghetti squash. Anyway, I know you can pressure cook the spaghetti sauce and the spaghetti squash at the same time as long as the squash fits on top.
You are going to need more clearance, so you won't be able to use the reversible rack in the high position, but you can try a foil sling.
You can also try the rack in the low position, but I'm not sure if that is going to be high enough. Next time I make the healthy spaghetti sauce, I will definitely cook the spaghetti squash at the same time and then update this post with exactly how I did it.
As far as cook time goes, I believe a whole spaghetti squash takes about 18 minutes of high pressure with a 15 minute NR. Of course, this depends on size. If you cut it in half, it takes less time.
Either way is fine because it will not hurt the spaghetti sauce to be pressure cooked for as long as it takes for the squash to be cooked.
If you give this a try, please let me know how you configure the Foodi to fit the spaghetti squash on top of the sauce!
Will the Zucchini Noodles Overcook Under Pressure?
I tested this recipe with zucchini noodles 5 times and I was able to come to a satisfactory result with making the zoodles on top of the spaghetti sauce.
I didn't use a spiralizer for my zoodles, instead I used a veggie strip maker from Pampered Chef. I prefer this over my spiralizer for making any type of vegetable noodle because they are slightly larger and therefore don't cook as fast and I think they have a better texture under a sauce.
I also tried reducing my pressure cooking time to 3 minutes instead of 5 and the sauce just didn't have the flavor that it did with a 5 minute pressure cook time. The next batch I made, I covered the 6" Fat Daddio pan with foil AND a silicone cover, that worked pretty well.
Some of the zucchini noodles were a little soft, but mostly the ones that were from the inside softer part of the zucchini. The zoodles made from the outer part of the zucchini were just fine.
If you don't have the veggie strip maker or another way to make thicker zoodles, then I would suggest cooking the zucchini noodles separately OR adding them into the sauce to cook at the end. They will release liquid, so you might need to add more tomato paste to thicken it up.
You can also simply sauté them in a pan on the stove.
Can I Add or Omit Ingredients in the Healthy Spaghetti Sauce?
Of course and I encourage you to take out what you don't like and add in what you do like!
There are few things to keep in mind when adding or omitting ingredients and the most important one is having enough thin liquid to be able to build pressure.
I see it posted a lot on Facebook that you need a minimum of 1-2 cups of thin liquid to create pressure. That is not true. Often times you can add much less liquid because the ingredients themselves will give off liquid while the pot is building pressure.
The key ingredients in this recipe that allow the pot to go under pressure are the cherry tomatoes and the fire roasted tomatoes, so you will need adjust things if you are changing those two ingredients.
If you want to omit the cherry tomatoes, you can use a regular sized tomato instead OR add in about ¼ cup of chicken stock or water.
You can use regular diced tomatoes with the liquid from the can and won't have to change anything. I also think crushed tomatoes would work in this recipe.
Jarred or homemade spaghetti sauce can be used, but you will need to add about ½ cup of a thin liquid, like chicken stock or water.
The roasted garlic gives a great flavor to this sauce and I really recommend using it, but if you wanted to use minced garlic instead, I would use between 1-3 teaspoons. You would also want to sauté the minced garlic with the ground turkey.
Making roasted garlic is super easy in the foodi, here is the recipe!
The onions, green peppers, and mushrooms are all optional. I really love the way the mushrooms give a hearty feel to the sauce, but if you don't like them it's fine to leave them out.
You can add in any other veggies you like, but keep the water content of them in mind. For example, if you loved tomatoes and wanted to add in 3 cups of fresh cherry tomatoes, your sauce might be a little thin.
You can add more tomato paste to balance the addition of more tomatoes, but you might need to adjust your seasonings some.
How to make Healthy Spaghetti Sauce in the Ninja Foodi or any Electric Pressure Cooker
This recipe couldn't be any easier. It's a quick sauté, followed by dump and cook!
If you haven't roasted your garlic yet, do that first. Here is the recipe: Roasted Garlic in the Ninja Foodi
While the garlic is roasting, prep your ingredients. Dice the onion -- size of the dice doesn't matter. Cut up the mushrooms and green peppers if you are using them and make your zucchini noodles.
Put the zucchini noodles in a 6" Fat Daddio pan or another heavy-walled pan that is light in color. If you don't have one, try to use several layers of foil and create a pouch for the zoodles.
Turn the Ninja Foodi or your pressure cooker on high sear/sauté. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the inner pot. Let it heat up and then add in the ground turkey.
Add in the mushrooms, green peppers and the seasonings. Sauté the ground turkey (or beef) with the vegetables and seasonings for about 5 minutes.
If you have any leftover pieces of zucchini, dice them up and add them in!
I add in a little sugar to cut the acid down and find it balances the sauce perfectly. That is completely optional of course. You can also add it at the end if your sauce tastes too acidic.
From this point on, do not stir. You want the tomatoes on top of the ground turkey and veggies and most importantly, the tomato paste has to sit on top.
Add in the 2 bulbs of roasted garlic. This might sound like a lot of garlic, but roasted garlic is very mild compared to minced raw garlic. If you prefer to use minced garlic, I would sauté 1-3 teaspoons (depending on how much garlic flavor you want in your sauce) with the ground turkey and vegetables.
I like to push the cherry tomatoes to the bottom of the pot so they burst open and release their juice during the pressure building time.
Dump in the 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes and add the tomato paste right on top of the tomatoes. You can flatten the tomato paste so the rack fits on top, but do not stir it in.
Make sure the zucchini noodles are in a pan that will fit on the rack, I use a 6" Fat Daddio Pan.
If you are using 2 medium to large zucchini, the pan will be very full. Don't worry, the volume will shrink as they cook.
Cover the pan with foil AND with a silicone cover. This helps provide a barrier so your zoodles don't become mush. If you don't have the silicone covers, use several layers of foil.
Place the rack in the Foodi in the high position and put the pan with the zoodles on top. Make sure the pan is towards the front of the Foodi so it's not impeding the valve or the button in the back in any way.
Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 5 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.
Remove the lid and the pan with the zoodles. Uncover them right away so they don't continue to steam.
Stir the healthy spaghetti sauce to incorporate the tomato paste.
Ladle the sauce over the zucchini noodles and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Serve & Enjoy!
Healthy Spaghetti Sauce with Zucchini Noodles
- 2 tsp fine grind sea salt
- 2 tsp basil
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tps red pepper flakes optional
- 1-2 tsps demerara sugar optional
- Roast the garlic if using. Dice the onions and green peppers. Cut the mushrooms in quarters. Make the zucchini noodles. You want them to be thicker than the spiralized ones and I recommend using something like this veggie strip maker.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi on High sear/sauté and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the ground turkey, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and seasoning blend. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Break up any large pieces of the ground turkey and stir occasionally. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck on food.
- Add in the cherry tomatoes and push them down so they are touching the bottom of the pot. Add in the roasted garlic.
- From this point forward, do not stir!
- Add in the canned tomatoes on top of the meat mixture. Then add the tomato paste on top of the tomatoes. DO NOT STIR.
- Place the lid on the pressure cooker and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 5 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 5 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.
- remove and uncover the pan with the zoodles immediately so the steam doesn't continue to cook them.
- Stir the sauce to incorporate the tomato paste.
- Place ¼ of the zucchini noodles on a plate. Ladle the sauce on top of the zucchini noodles and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve & Enjoy.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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