Pressure Cooker Vegan Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs

Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs by An Unrefined Vegan

My mom didn’t have a drop of Italian or Sicilian blood in her, but you wouldn’t have known that from her pasta sauce. Gently simmered all day in a big pot, her signature red sauce was rich and flavorful and graced everything from straight-up weeknight spaghetti to dad’s Christmas Eve lasagna (and dad does have quite a few drops of Italian and Sicilian blood in him). But mom’s sauce acquired it’s flavor from pork bones, various cuts of meat and plenty of Parmesan cheese, making it off-limits once I went vegan.

I’ve missed that sauce! And I wanted to see if I could get close to mom’s version without the meat and bones… The result is an arrabbiata sauce that is also rich and flavorful, but it gets there using only plant-based ingredients like capers, olives, onion, garlic, and lots of spices. Soy curls, French lentils and artichoke hearts give the sauce a meaty bite. And we don’t have to wait all day to enjoy it. It cooks up a lot quicker because I make it in my Instant Pot. A few minutes in a pressure cooker is the same as simmering a sauce all day long. 

Do yourself a favor. After the sauce has finished cooking and you’ve uncovered your pressure cooker, dip a thick slice of crusty bread right in there. Oh my goodness gracious! For another yummy, easy sauce recipe, check out my Chickpea “Meat” Sauce (my most Pinned recipe, btw) from 2015.

Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs by An Unrefined Vegan

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Pressure Cooker Vegan Arrabiata Ragu

  • Author: Annie
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 30




  • 1 1/2 cups soy curls
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • Pinch each of –
  • dried marjoram
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • dried thyme
  • fennel seeds
  • ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes or cayenne
  • Hot water to cover


  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. anise seeds
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup French lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 heaping Tbps. capers
  • Soy curl “meat” + soaking water


Prepare the soy curl “meat”

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, add the soy curls and the herbs/spices. Pour very hot/boiling water to cover, stir and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Drain the soy curls, but reserve the water. Roughly chop the soy curls into small pieces (or pulse a few times in a food processor). Set aside.

Prepare the sauce

  1. Using the (low) sauté function of your pressure cooker, cook the onions and garlic in water for a few minutes – just until turning translucent.
  2. Add the red wine and cook for about 5 minutes, letting some of the wine cook off. Then stir in the herbs and tomato paste. Cook another minute. Add the remaining ingredients (including the soy curl “meat” and the water they soaked in) and cover the pressure cooker. Change the setting to pressure – selecting 20 minutes of cooking time.
  3. Let the cooker depressurize naturally. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning. Serve over piping-hot, freshly cooked noodles.


  • Total time includes time for the cooker to release pressure completely.


  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 196
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 3870
  • Fat: 2
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 32
  • Protein: 13
  • Cholesterol: 0

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Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs by An Unrefined Vegan

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Chickpea, Mushroom & Quinoa “Meatballs”

  • Author: Annie
  • Yield: 18 1x


Spaghetti without meatballs is like trying to play baseball without a ball! These healthy, no-oil meatballs are a little bit spicy with just the right texture to satisfy those “meaty” cravings.



Sauté Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cup cremini mushrooms (45 large), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • generous splash dry red wine

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • pinch sea salt


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment or spray lightly with oil (this will yield a browner crust) and preheat the oven to 375-degrees F.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, saute the onion and mushrooms in a splash of vegetable broth or water until softened. Stir in the garlic, herbs and spices, and a generous glug of red wine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, scrape into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add all of the “food processor” ingredients and pulse until fairly smooth. Add the mixture to the onion-mushroom mixture in the bowl. Get in there with clean hands and mix thoroughly to moisten the breadcrumbs and combine all of the ingredients.
  4. If you like, let the mixture chill to firm up a bit before forming into meatballs. When ready, roll into golfball-sized balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes then gently and carefully turn and bake for another 20 minutes. You’re looking for a bit of browning on both sides of the meatball, so bake until browned and set.
  5. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until ready to use, or serve right away over pasta and sauce.


  • It helps the mixture to sit/chill for a few hours before rolling into balls, but they can be formed immediately, too.

Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs by An Unrefined Vegan

9 thoughts on “Pressure Cooker Vegan Arrabiata Ragu Pasta with Meatballs

  1. JW

    I made this for dinner this evening. I substituted cooked brown rice for the quinoa in the meatballs (I had leftover rice in the refrigerator). Everything was delicious, although it was a little time consuming. I had the day off, so I had the time, but otherwise it would be best for a weekend meal.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Thanks for the feedback – I really appreciate it! Yes, agreed that this is not good candidate for a weeknight recipe 🙂 – but the nice thing is, everything (except the pasta itself) can be made ahead when one has the time.

  2. Brittany

    What a beautiful dish! My mom is mostly Italian, and it’s definitely in my blood. This is a delicious looking alternative, I never enjoyed the meat in the pasta anyway. 🙂


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