Paula Shoyer updates Jewish cuisine for Instant Pot cooking

Paula Shoyer (Photo by Bill Milne)

Quick and simple. That’s what Paula Shoyer likes about the Instant Pot. Instead of using a pot for her spaghetti, another pot for her sauce, plus a colander, she just uses the multicooker and is left with only one thing to clean.

It’s this perk of the combination pressure and slow cooker that led to Shoyer’s latest cookbook, “The Instant Pot® Kosher Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul.”

Shoyer is a French-trained pastry chef and author of “The Kosher Baker,” “The Holiday Kosher Baker,” “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen” and “The New Passover Menu.” She lives in Chevy Chase and is a member of Ohr Kodesh Congregation.

How did you get into Instant Pot cooking?

I resisted the Instant Pot craze for quite a while. A kosher kitchen is a very congested place with so many groups of dishes and appliances that I thought, Oh, do I really need to buy yet another appliance?

And my fans of my other books who are getting really into Instant Pot cooking kept asking me for Instant Pot versions of my recipes. So, finally I bought one. And I thought, this is great. It’s such a time saver. It cleans so easily. I was hooked.

How does Instant Pot cooking compare to other forms of cooking?

It’s a pressure cooker, so it cooks everything really, really fast, which is so great for all of our classic Jewish foods, right? Like soups and stews are such a key component of how we eat and what we serve on Shabbat and holidays. It’s definitely so much faster.

What was the impetus for the book?

Somebody brought to my attention a Facebook group called “Kosher Instant Pot.” So I go on the Facebook group and I start going through the feed and seeing what kind of recipes were there. And a constant theme in the comment thread was frustrations at always having to adapt the recipe [to be kosher]. I thought somebody should write a kosher Instant Pot book.

My big joke is sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. I went to my publisher after having used this device three times and put together a list of 80 recipes and said, “Hey, I want to write a book,” and they were all over it.

What goes into creating a recipe?

For this book, my agenda was essentially, OK, if I’m writing something that’s going to be called the “Kosher Instant Pot” book, there should be classic Jewish favorites, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi. And then it was like, OK, I want to make sure there is something for every Jewish holiday.

I work very hard when I’m writing my recipes to stand in the shoes of the person making the recipe and consider how much effort they want to put into it.

Do you have any favorite recipes in the book?

The spaghetti with flanken bolognese is definitely one of my favorites. Every time I’ve made that for an event, it’s been really popular. The other one is my quinoa and beet salad, because it cooks super-fast.

Do you have any general advice for Instant Pot cooking?

Number one, don’t be afraid of it. There’s all these buttons on it, but you’re going to use like four buttons. Honestly, I don’t need so many buttons. There is a soup button. There is a beef button. Never used those. I use the manual one all the time. So that’s number one.

Was it difficult to come up with 100 recipes for the book?

This is what I’m good at. So if you told me right now, “Paula, would you write a cookbook on recipes with honey?” — give me two hours and I’ll write down 100 ideas to use with honey.

What effect would you like the book to have?

Honestly, what I say about Instant Pot cooking is that it mostly creates comfort foods, right? There’s a lot of different recipes here. But there’s a lot of soups and stews and salads, things that hold up really well. So I feel like Instant Pot cooking are the kinds of dishes that are very easily packed up and shared.

I want people to cook from this book and use it to share, uplift, celebrate and help other people through this difficult time. Because honestly, yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things are getting better. But we’re still not there yet where our lives are completely normal. And there will be people who will be stuck at home a lot longer. And we can bring them up a container of soup and put a smile on their face.

Delicious, just faster

Here are two recipes from Paula Shoyer’s “The Instant Pot Kosher Cookbook.” Used by permission.

Vegan Zucchini Rolls (Photo by Bill Milne)


Pareve, Vegan

Advance Prep: Soak cashews for 5 hours, soften zucchini for at least 15 minutes and as long as 1 hour
Hands-on Time: 12 Minutes
Time to Pressure: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 6 Minutes
Button to Use: Pressure Cook
Release Type: Quick Release
Advance Prep: Cheese or completed dish may be made 2 days in advance

Serves 4–6 as a side dish and 2–3 as a main course.

Cashew Cheese
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in 1 cup of cold water for 5 hours
2 teaspoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
¼ cup water
4 large basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper

Zucchini Rolls
2 large zucchinis, about 1 pound, 3 ounces total
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups marinara sauce

About 20 minutes prior to processing the cheese, slice the zucchinis vertically (the long way) into ¼-inch pieces. You can use the mandolin if you are very brave, but as I have injured myself too many times using it, I use a knife to cut the slices by turning the zucchini on its side and then carefully cutting the long slices. Any rejects or end pieces can be saved in the fridge or freezer for soup or the vegetable stock. You will need 8 slices for this dish, but I always slice 9 or 10 pieces so I can use the most pliable ones for the recipe.
Line a cookie sheet with two layers of paper towels. Place the zucchini slices on top.

Sprinkle the salt over the slices and let them sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the slices with cold water and dry them. Line the cookie sheet with a fresh layer of paper towels and place the zucchini slices on top to dry further.

To make the cheese, drain the cashews and place them into a food processor. Add the lemon juice, water, basil, salt. And pepper and process into a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl multiple times.

Place the steam rack into the inner pot and add 1 cup of water. You will need a 6- or 7-inch pan to make this recipe; I prefer the 7-inch one. Add the marinara sauce to the pan.

To make the rolls, take one of the zucchini slices and spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of the cheese over the entire slice to the edges. Roll up from the smaller end. One side of the roll may be prettier so that part should face up. Place the roll into the sauce, leaning the end of the roll into the side of the pan to keep it from unrolling. Repeat for the other rolls and place one or two into the center.

Create an aluminum foil sling. Place the pan on the foil and lift up the sides to insert the pan on top of the steam rack.

Secure the lid, ensuring that the steam release handle is in the Sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time for 6 minutes. When the cooking time is complete, press Cancel and turn the steam release handle to the Venting position to quickly release the pressure. To serve, scoop up a roll and place it on a plate, adding more sauce around it.

Beet and Mint Salad (Photo by Bill Milne)


You can make this a few days in advance, but add the remaining mint leaves before serving.

Gluten-free, Pareve, Passover, Vegan

Hands-on Time: 4 Minutes, plus 10 Minutes to cool beets
Time to Pressure: 9 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
Button to Use: Pressure Cook
Release Type: Quick Release
Advance Prep: May be made 3 days in advance

Serves 8

1 cup water
4 medium beets, about 2 pounds, scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large navel orange, sliced in half; remove the flesh from half and cut it into ½-inch pieces, and then juice the other half
2 tablespoons chopped red onion, about one-quarter of 1 small red onion
12 large mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Place the water into the inner pot and insert the steam rack. Place the beets on top. Secure the lid, ensuring that the steam release handle is in the Sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time for 30 minutes. When the cooking time is complete, turn the steam release handle to the Venting position to quickly release the pressure. Press Cancel and remove the lid.

Remove the beets to a colander and let them cool for 10 minutes. Use gloved hands to rub the skins off of the beets. Cut the beets into 1-inch cubes and place into a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, place the oil, orange juice, red onions, half of the mint leaves, 1 tablespoon water and the salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk well. Add the orange pieces and stir. Add to the beets and mix well. When ready to serve, add the remaining mint leaves.

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