If you’re looking for a truly delicious, yet super simple pasta recipe, this Lemon Ricotta Pasta is the recipe you’re looking for. This easy pasta is made with a ricotta pasta sauce that’s flavored with fresh ingredients like lemon juice, lemon zest, spinach, garlic, and parmesan.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta
This dish is so light and refreshing, it’s a perfect meal for a hot summer day. The lemon and garlic have such a nice blend of flavors that really pop. This pasta dish is simple, delicious, requires minimal effort, and it’s ready in only 15 minutes. I recommend serving it with lemon wedges, some freshly cracked black pepper, and a little extra freshly grated parmesan cheese.
What Goes Well With Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta is one of the most versatile cheeses. I love it paired with tomato sauces in pasta bakes, or in simple stovetop pasta dishes like this one.
It pairs well with sweet and savory flavors, so in addition to the Italian classics like pasta and pizza, you can also pair it with fruit, smeared on toast with a drizzle of honey or some savory roasted vegetables. The options are really endless with this ultra versatile cheese.
Ricotta Pasta Sauce
The secret to turning a flavorful ricotta mixture into a delicious creamy pasta sauce is to mix in some of the hot starchy pasta water. That’s the special ingredient that makes ricotta pasta sauce smooth and creamy.
Will Ricotta Melt In Sauce?
Ricotta is made from a combination of heat and acid, which means that it has a different structural property than most cheeses do. As a result, that means that ricotta will not melt. This is what makes it so popular for pasta bakes, because it doesn’t lose volume the way a melted cheese would.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Pasta Sauce?
Ricotta pasta sauce freezes well only if you intend to cook the sauce after it thaws. Freezing changes the texture and the taste, but if you’re planning to use it as a filling for lasagna after it thaws, it won’t be noticeable.
How Do You Keep Ricotta From Going Grainy?
There are two options to reduce the grainy texture of ricotta. 1) You can drain the ricotta through cheese cloth in a colander over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight (this allows the excess liquid to drain away). 2) You can whisk or blend the ricotta until it’s velvety smooth before making the past sauce.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta Ingredients
This quick and easy dinner only needs a handful of fresh ingredients, including: spaghetti, olive oil, fresh baby spinach, garlic, ricotta, freshly grated parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
How To Make Lemon Ricotta Pasta
Start by boiling the pasta in salted water until it’s cooked to al dente, being sure to reserve some of the hot starchy pasta water. Saute the spinach with the garlic and then set that to the side.
Mix the ricotta, parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper together. Toss the ricotta mixture with the drained spinach, mix it with a bit of pasta water, then coat the noodles in the ricotta sauce. See the recipe card below for the full instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.
Which Pasta Shape Should I Use?
I have yet to find a pasta shape that didn’t pair well this sauce. Some of my favorite noodle options for this dish are spaghetti, linguine, penne, ravioli, agnolotti, gemelli, bucatini, macaroni, scialatielli, orecchiette, angel hair, farfalle, and fusilli.
Pasta Bake With Ricotta
If you’d like to make this into a pasta bake, this is how I’d recommend making it:
- Start by preheating the oven to 375 F, then boil the pasta shells in salted water to al dente, according to the package instructions.
- Make the ricotta sauce as instructed below, except add in one egg and one cup of freshly shredded pizza mozzarella, and omit the pasta water. Use that to gently stuff 16 cooked pasta shells.
- Spread about a half of a cup of marinara sauce over the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Fill the dish with the stuffed shells, pour over another half of a cup of marinara sauce, then cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake the stuffed shells covered for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes (or until the top starts to turn golden brown and the sauce is bubbling).
This pasta sauce is a really easy one to play around with. You could try adding some red chili flakes for some spice, some fresh basil from your garden, changing the vegetable depending on what’s fresh and seasonal, or adding some meat for added protein.
- Vegetables: Arugula, Mushroom, Caramelized Onions, Kale, Roasted Zucchini, Peas, Broccoli, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Summer Corn, or Cherry Tomatoes.
- Meat: Grilled Chicken, Crumbled Sausage, Prosciutto, Bacon, Shrimp, Seafood.
Keep In Touch
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Pasta and Spinach:
- 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti (340 grams)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 8 - 10 ounces fresh baby spinach (roughly chopped, amount depending on taste preference)
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
Lemon Ricotta Pasta Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnish)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package instructions.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the roughly chopped baby spinach to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally. Once the spinach has cooked down (about 5 minutes), add in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes (or until the garlic is aromatic). Gently and carefully pour out any cooking liquid from the spinach.
- While the spinach is cooking, make the pasta sauce. In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan cheese, remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the cooked and drained spinach.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of starchy cooking water before draining. Drain the pasta then put it back into the pot.
- Add the spinach and ricotta mixture into the pot with pasta and stir until fully combined. Add 1/4 cup of starchy cooking water to start, then a little at a time until the desired creamy consistency is reached. Top off with a little extra parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
It’s important to roughly chop the spinach before you cook it. If you don’t, the pieces will be too large and it kind of ruins the consistency of the dish when there are big bites of spinach (rather than the preferable small bites of spinach).
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 496Total Fat: 26gCarbohydrates: 50.5gNet Carbohydrates: 47.8gFiber: 2.7gSugar: 3.2gProtein: 15.6g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This recipe makes 4 large or 6 small servings. Nutrition was calculated for portions that make 6 servings.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal! It’s ready quickly, only uses one burner, and it’s perfect in the summer or winter.