There’s something so satisfying about a plate of pasta with a hearty, flavorful marinara sauce. It’s a meal that can be put together in a hurry, when you’re low on groceries or have no idea what to make, and it’s both inexpensive and appealing. This recipe for Instant Pot marinara sauce with extra veggies makes a huge batch of sauce, equivalent to three jars of pre-made sauce. Instant Pot veggie marinara sauce is fabulous to have on hand in the freezer for whenever you need the makings of an easy spaghetti dinner.
This veggie marinara sauce recipe uses carrots and celery in addition to tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a touch of extra virgin of olive oil. You can use this sauce to top pasta, grilled chicken or zucchini noodles, or to use as a dip for breadsticks. You use it for baked pasta dishes like Baked Caprese Tortellini. It’s also a great choice for our World’s Best Crock-Pot Italian Chicken recipe.
To start the sauce, puree the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a food processor with the olive oil. This veggie puree becomes a flavor base for the sauce.
For years, I didn’t have a food processor, but if you don’t have one, you can put the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a blender with a little water, process them until they are very finely chopped, drain them using a fine strainer, and then add them to the olive oil.
Put the veggie puree into the Instant Pot, season with salt and black pepper, and cook using the Instant Pot’s sauté function. Cook and stir for about 15 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps develop the flavor of the vegetables before you add the tomatoes.
I had my Instant Pot for a few months before I realized you can adjust the heat for the sauté setting. I recommend the medium or “normal” heat setting for this step. Press “Sauté,” then press “Adjust” until the “Normal” setting is highlighted.
Once the veggies have softened and mellowed in flavor, add the crushed tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are in the pot, you add dried basil, Italian seasoning, more salt, red pepper flakes, and a little sugar or agave syrup to counterbalance the acidity of the tomatoes. Doesn’t it look delicious already?
The final step is to cook the sauce at high pressure for 20 minutes. At the end of the cook time, let the pressure release naturally (about 20 minutes), and remove the lid.
At the end, you’ll have a huge batch of yummy sauce that you can use to create several no-fuss meals. This recipe makes the equivalent of three jars of commercially prepared marinara sauce, so what you don’t use immediately you can store in the freezer. The sauce will keep fresh in the freezer for 6-12 months.
Veggie Marinara Sauce (Instant Pot Recipe)
- 3 carrots peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces, or about 15 baby carrots
- 3 stalks celery trimmed and washed, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 large or 2 small onions peeled and quartered
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 28- oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sugar or agave syrup optional
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Process the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and olive oil in a food processor until pureed.
- Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, put the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the jar of a blender, and add 1 1/2 cups of water. Process until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Strain this mixture using a fine strainer, then add the olive oil to the vegetable mixture.
- Using the Instant Pot sauté feature, cook the vegetable/olive oil mixture on medium or "normal" heat for 15 minutes, stirring often. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper during cooking.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar or agave syrup, Italian seasoning, dried basil red pepper flakes and an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and stir to blend.
- Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to reduce using a natural pressure release, then remove the lid of the pressure cooker.
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Photos by Marsha Maxwell, Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com, Valeria Asakova/Shutterstock.com.