I decided I would try to make my favorite (nearly) homecooked original spaghetti sauce in a pressure cooker for the first time.  Pressure Cooker is one of my go-to cooking implements on the boat, used for canning and cooking and occasionally trying to wash the cat.

Feeding any number of people on a sailboat is difficult at best, which is why potluck and BYOB go hand-in-hand with cruising.  But in this case, one of our buddy boats had just come in that morning from a very rough passage and our other buddy boat full of kids loves spaghetti, so we volunteered to cook again this time. Usually we only feed nine of us, this time we were adding two more hungry tired adults to the mix who are not shy about eating what’s served.  I love that!

Since I only have so many large pots on the boat and I needed my largest one to make the rigatoni, I decided I would try to make my favorite (nearly) home cooked original spaghetti sauce in a pressure cooker for the first time.  The pressure cooker is one of my go-to cooking implements on the boat, used for canning and cooking and occasionally trying to wash the cat.

I started with the recipe on pg. 270 of “The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook” by Janet A. Zimmerman; knowing I didn’t have all the ingredients that the recipe called for but wanting to use it as a framework to cook my own spaghetti sauce.

I found as many ingredients from the recipe in the book as we had then I went looking for the rest of what I usually add to my sauces.  So we used the following:

Chub of defrosted turkey/ground beef -1/4 pound or so (No frozen chubs of ground turkey/beef found since shopping at the Chedraui in Huatulco.)

2 onions

¼ of a whole small green pepper (that’s all that was left)

2 tablespoons of fresh garlic, smashed/minced*

Olive oil*

¼ spoonful of red pepper flakes*

4-6 small bay leaves

¼ spoonful of rosemary

1 spoonful of dry spaghetti sauce mix

Small amount of sea salt*

1 spoonful of California Oregano (last spoonful on board)*

1 spoonful of California Basil

3 cans of Kirkland Brand Organic Tomato Sauce (last Costco cans)

1 box of Tomato Sauce (from Chedraui- awesome Mexican food store)

2 can equivalents of water (so the sauce didn’t thicken too much in the pressure cooker as it cooked)

*- indicates the ingredient is from the recipe in the book

I cook the ground beef first then take it out to allow the veggies to cook on their own.  Once the veggies are cooked in some olive oil, I throw the beef back in, throw all the spices in and then the tomato sauce in water.  After a quick mix, I get the pressure cooker lid back on and bring it to temperature as quick as possible.  Remember, this is a boat galley in the middle of the day….it really heats up.  Luckly in this case, the HelmsMistress and kids were off doing some exploring on shore so I was able to knock out this cooking without complaints about the heat.  After getting the pressure cooker to temperature, I allowed it to cook for 8 minutes then used the rapid cooling method to take heat off.

After a quick stir, here’s how it looked.  Then the whole thing sat with the lid on while I knocked out other chores on the boat.  Once afternoon came and our guests were onboard, I had the sauce cook on low for about half an hour to thicken it up and I already had the pasta cooked, meaning we didn’t have to eat at 9pm like usual.  By the end of the night, there was no pasta left, just a bit of sauce we would use for another meal the next day and eleven people with full bellies.  It’s been awhile since I’ve cooked a full meal for this many people and I don’t think I’ve ever done it in a boat galley, so I call this one a win.


The author cooks as often as possible on Tulum-5 when he’s not working on the boat or playing Captain.  Tulum has now finally made it to Costa Rica and will be continuing to Panama to spend hurricane season there.  We’re slow, but steady.  We write often and publish when we get wifi, so we ask for patience if there’s long stretches between posts, as we’re not in Mexico anymore….Toto.

4 Responses

  1. Mmmmm….spaghetti! Hi Chad, long time no talk! I never did get a boat finished and now I’m in the Philippines! I come back to the states in a few weeks to work for six months then back here. I hope all is well and I look forward to hearing from you!

    1. Wow, what a blast to hear from you, tried to find ur blog but couldn’t. How are u? I hope good, and happy- keep in contact, we’re in Costa Rica!

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