Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Instant Pot, Italian, Lightened Up, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish, Slow Cooker

Comfort Food: Meatballs & Potatoes Edition (Instant Pot)


I love this recipe for Italian Meatball Stew over Smashed Potatoes. I haven’t had it in a few years, but this is one that my mom made regularly in the slow cooker. I decided to switch things up and use meatballs instead of chicken Italian sausage after spotting meatballs when doing a last-ditch quarantine preparedness run at Wegman’s. (Let me just interject that their prepared beef meatballs are mini and cute and delicious.) I made the potatoes extra creamy using mascarpone instead of EVOO. Using an Instant Pot allows for a much faster simmer compared to a stovetop or a slow cooker. This is quite aromatic and your kitchen will smell amazing during while cooking this stew, only adding to its maximum comfort level during this crazy self-quarantining and social distancing time. If you’re feeling industrious, trying making bread to pair!

Ingredients (serves 4 + leftover potatoes).

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 t light olive oil
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 12 oz beef meatballs, cooked *
  • 1.5 lbs (24 oz) baby red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 5.5 c (~4 oz) baby kale
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 T mascarpone (optional — omit if dairy-free)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c pumpkin purée

* NOTE: you can use 4 links of chicken Italian sausage and prep depending on preference, i.e. whole, quartered, or sliced.


  1. In an Instant Pot, select “Sauté,” add oil, garlic, and onions. Sauté until sizzling and browning. Turn off “Sauté” mode.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and meatballs and mix well. Add potatoes, and top with kale.
  3. Secure lid, seal, and set to “Pressure Cook” for 8 min.
  4. Allow the steam to naturally release for 10 min. If the float valve is still up, carefully vent and release steam manually.
  5. Carefully remove potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Smash potatoes and fold in almond milk and mascarpone (optional). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in pumpkin purée to the tomato mixture to thicken.
  7. Dish up roughly 1 c smashed potatoes and serve with 1½ c of the kale, meatballs, and tomato sauce or enough to divide stew between four servings.
    • Note: I had about 1 c or more of potatoes leftover. Feel free to evenly divide potatoes between four servings as well.
  8. Enjoy!
If using a slow cooker, start at Step 2, combine all ingredients in a slow cooker for 4-5 hrs on low or 2-3 hrs on high. Still follow Step 5 to smash potatoes and serve.

Adapted from my mom’s slow cooker recipe for “Sausage and Kale Stew with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes.”

Nutrition for 1 serving (with meatballs and mascarpone. Also includes all of the potatoes + leftovers).
384 calories  •  13.8 g fat (33%)  •  51.3 g carbs (55%)  •  10.6 g protein (12%)  •  9.3 g fiber  •  18.8 g sugar  •  479 mg sodium
* These are estimates based off specific products I used and how I entered ingredients in a fitness tracker. This is completely subjective and used to give a rough nutritional estimate.


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