Lemon Ricotta Pasta combines the zesty brightness of freshly squeezed lemons with the creamy richness of ricotta cheese, resulting in a dish that is both refreshing and comforting. The dish also mixes fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese in with the pasta and is finished off with fresh parsley. This is a nice base for additional protein like white beans, chickpeas, shrimp, salmon or chicken.
LEMON RICOTTA PASTA
If you have been here for a while you probably know I use lemon in a lot of my recipes.
It is one of my favorite ingredients to use.
It helps add so much zesty flavor but is still light.
I especially love using it in sauces and adding it to pasta dishes.
Today’s Lemon Ricotta Pasta is one of my all-time favorites. It is a creamy lemon pasta dish that is so easy to put together.
The nice thing about today’s Lemon Ricotta Pasta is it makes a great base for protein like white beans, chickpeas, salmon, shrimp or chicken.
It tastes great as leftovers- just make sure to add a bit of olive oil and lemon juice when you reheat it as the sauce gets soaked into the pasta after being stored in the fridge.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS LEMON RICOTTA PASTA:
EASY TO MAKE: This dish can be on your table in under 30 minutes and it couldn’t be easier to make. You will love how fast it comes together with minimal clean-up.
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS: You can beat simple ingredients. This dish uses five basic ingredients: lemon juice, pasta, ricotta cheese, spinach and Parmesan cheese.
THE PERFECT PAIRING: The sweet zesty lemon juice paired with the creamy rich ricotta is so perfect. The bright acidity of lemon complements the creaminess of ricotta in a way that balances out the richness without overpowering it. Whether it’s in pasta dishes, desserts, pancakes, tarts, or even dips, the marriage of lemon and ricotta creates the perfect combination.
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THIS LEMON RICOTTA PASTA?
- RIGATONI: The rigatoni can be substituted with any other variety of dried pasta, either short or long.
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil, or your preferred frying oil.
- YELLOW ONION: A yellow onion was used in this recipe, however this can be replaced with a white or red onion.
- GARLIC: The fresh garlic can be substituted with 4 heaped teaspoons of minced jar garlic.
- RICOTTA: For best results use whole fat ricotta. It adds more creamy texture and rich flavor.
- PARMESAN CHEESE: The shredded parmesan can be substituted with grated parmesan.
- LEMON JUICE AND ZEST: Fresh lemon tastes best in this recipe. If fresh lemon juice isn’t available, substitute with bottled lemon juice and omit the lemon zest.
- SPINACH LEAVES: Use fresh baby spinach leaves when possible. If you have to use frozen make sure you thaw and drain excess water.
- FRESH PARSLEY: The fresh parsley is used as a garnish, and can be substituted with fresh basil leaves, or omitted all together.
HOW DO YOU MAKE LEMON RICOTTA PASTA?
COOK THE PASTA: Cook the rigatoni according to packet directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
COOK THE ONION AND GARLIC: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
ADD THE CHEESE AND LEMON JUICE: Add the ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice and zest, baby spinach leaves and reserved pasta cooking water to the skillet.
Stir to combine, then simmer until the spinach wilts.
MIX THE PASTA WELL: Stir the pasta through the ricotta sauce.
Divide the pasta between the serving bowls, top with the chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
WAYS TO MODIFY THIS RICOTTA PASTA
BEANS: Beans are a great addition to this lemon ricotta pasta. I especially like white beans and chickpeas.
GREENS: If you don’t want to use spinach try adding arugula, kale or mixed greens.
FRESH HERBS: Fresh herbs add a fresh pop of flavor and are always a nice finishing touch. I suggest fresh basil, chives, oregano, thyme or dill in addition to the parsley.
SPICES: You can spice up the dish by adding crushed red pepper, oregano, Greek seasoning, Italian seasoning or a dash or cayenne red pepper.
CHEESE: Other cheese options that would be nice in this dish are mascarpone, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese or feta cheese.
VEGETABLES: Incorporate sautéed or roasted vegetables to enhance both flavor and nutrition. Consider options like cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, caramelized onions, green beans, broccoli, spinach, peas, or zucchini.
NUTS: Sprinkle toasted pine nuts, chopped walnuts, or almonds on top for an added layer of texture and nutty richness.
BREADCRUMBS: I like adding breadcrumbs for an added crunch to the the pasta.
TIPS AND NOTES FOR THIS LEMON RICOTTA PASTA
PASTA: Choose a pasta shape that can hold the creamy sauce well. Penne, fettuccine, or linguine are good options.
RICOTTA: Use a good quality ricotta cheese. Whole milk ricotta tends to be creamier and more flavorful.
AL DENTE PASTA: Don’t overcook the pasta. It’s important to cook it al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly when combined with the sauce.
CREAMY: If you want to enhance the creaminess, you can add a touch of heavy cream to the pasta.
LEFTOVERS: I find that the pasta soaks in the lemon juice when it sits for a couple of days. When you go to reheat the pasta I would add a small drizzle of olive oil or cream and then heat the pasta. I would then finish off the pasta with more lemon juice.
STORAGE: Store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat using the microwave. This pasta is suitable for freezing. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating using the microwave.
OTHER PASTA RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE:
- 1 pound rigatoni, cooked according to packet directions, 1/2 cup cooking water reserved
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing (optional)
- Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- Cook the rigatoni according to packet directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice and zest, baby spinach leaves and reserved pasta cooking water to the skillet. Stir to combine, then simmer until the spinach wilts.
- Stir the pasta through the ricotta sauce. Divide the pasta between the serving bowls, top with the chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
- Store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat using the microwave.
- This pasta is suitable for freezing. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating using the microwave.
If you forget to reserve the cooking water before draining the pasta simply use tap water instead.
The sauce can be thinned further by adding extra cooking water.
Additional parmesan can be used as a garnish when serving if desired.