“The Big Book of Instant Pot Recipes” is not a cookbook I’d expect to see in the stylish kitchen of a veteran cook. With its soft binding and cover image of an Instant Pot, you wouldn’t call it elegant. Still, the book delivers big – chock full as it is with easy, interesting, enticing, healthy, and, best of all, economical recipes that, it so happens, use many of the ingredients I keep in my cupboard.

Cover courtesy of Page Street Publishing

How much did I love making a recipe from this book? Consider that my partner bought an Instant Pot five years ago and I had yet to use it before last week. But after making just one dish from “The Big Book,” as I have taken to calling it, I already have gone “shopping” for my next Big-Book dish.

The book is co-written by Amy Rains, Kristy Bernardo, Emily Sunwell-Vidaurri and Stefanie Bundalo. In the introduction, Rains sells readers on the Instant Pot itself, as well as this collection of simple and savory dishes. She explains the Instant Pot can cut cooking time up to 70 percent. She promises that the majority of the 240 recipes in the book can be made in under 45 minutes. Furthermore, she writes: “…the Instant Pot method preserves more nutrients in your food because of the shorter cook time and lower temperatures than traditional cooking methods.”

“The Big Book” includes a range of recipes, from those for ethnic dishes (like Chicken Tikka Masala, Beefy Mexican casserole and Middle Eastern shakshuka) to longtime favorites, like mushroom-chicken stroganoff and southwestern chicken.

The cookbook is divided into categories: breakfast, lunch, soups and stews, pastas, main courses, sides, desserts, and condiments and sauces. As someone with a gluten allergy, I appreciated that most of the recipes are either gluten free or offer a gluten-free option.

“The Big Book,” which is 512 pages, doesn’t leave much out. You could just about name a favorite dish, and chances are good you will find it in the book. Fan of beef chili, lobster bisque, beef short ribs, turkey tacos, or the ever-so-trendy pulled pork sandwich? “The Big Book” has recipes for them all.


Looking for treats to spice up a Sunday brunch? How about apple butter, chocolate-spiced pumpkin bread, (gluten-free) gingerbread French toast casserole or (gluten-free) double chocolate banana bread. Taken together, I realize that’s a lot of sugar, but, hey, we are entering the holiday season.

To that end, “The Big Book’s” chapter on sweets is both interesting and varied – from the (once again, gluten-free) chocolate flourless cake to the pomegranate bread pudding, and the pear and cranberry crisp.

My partner and I made the chicken florentine, and not only found this a delicious, quick meal that suited a nice bottle of Spanish Garnacha, we both enjoyed the leftovers the next day, too.

We used gluten-free penne and added some extra spinach, but agreed that next time, more chicken, even more spinach, and a lot more freshly grated pepper would really make this dish sing. I plan to make it again in the next week, as well as a second dish from my Big Book.

Chicken Florentine

Serves 4


2 tsp olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup white wine


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/2 lb dried penne pasta

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3 cups fresh spinach leaves


Coarse salt

Freshly grated pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Press “saute” to preheat the Instant Pot. When the word “hot” appears on the display, add the oil and onion to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook for 1 more minute. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pot. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the wine is reduced by half.

Add the chicken, tomatoes, pasta and stock, taking care to ensure that the pasta is fully submerged in the liquid.

Secure the lid with the steam vent in the sealed position. Press “manual” and immediately adjust the timer to 6 minutes. Check that the display light is beneath “high pressure.”

When the timer sounds, quick release the pressure and carefully remove the lid. Add the mozzarella and spinach to the pot, then gently stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each plate with grated Parmesan and fresh basil.

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