This easy one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is a classic Italian pasta dish that scent of summer. A delicious creamy sauce with a delicate tangy lemon note, ready to sit on your table in just 15 minutes.
This pasta with ricotta and lemon is a perfect meal for the summer season, along with my super refreshing Panzanella salad, and my grilled corn salad with fresh herbs and roasted peppers. However, if you are looking for more recipes with ricotta, take a look at this fava bean pesto or this vegetarian bruschetta with zucchini both are incredibly delicious.
Why you’ll love this pasta with ricotta and lemon
Effortless. This one pot ricotta and lemon pasta comes together in no time and doesn’t require hard work. It is perfect for busy families or students that don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen but still want a tasty meal.
Meatless recipe. If you are looking for a vegetarian dish to serve on your meatless day, this is for you.
Make ahead. The ricotta cream can be made one day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The next day you’ll only need to cook the pasta and combine it with the ricotta mixture.
This was a regular dish in my home and it was one of the first dishes that I learn from my father when I was a kid. It was perfect as no actual cooking was involved and it just needs to whisk all in one pot with ricotta, lemon, and the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooked pasta. I just loved how by adding a few simple ingredients to the ricotta you would obtain an incredibly rich creamy, tangy, and nutty sauce perfect for a pasta dish. Furthermore, the addition of parsley pesto adds a fresh and appetizing peppery flavor to the pasta.
The key to achieving a creamy pasta with lemon is to prepare the ricotta mixture in a separate bowl and then add the water pasta into it. Doing this way you are certain that all the ingredients and flavors are well combined together creating a fantastic sauce.
What I love about this one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is that is extremely cheap and most of the ingredients may be already in your household. Maybe except for the ricotta cheese! Let’s see what you may need to buy!
Ricotta– Use a good ricotta cheese, better if whole milk as it is richer in flavor.
Lemons– Use unwaxed lemons as we will need to use the zest and the juice. Before using the zest make sure to wash properly the lemons to remove any dirt.
Cheese– The Parmigiano Reggiano and the Pecorino Romano work wonderfully with this ricotta sauce and boost the flavor.
Garlic– It is added to the ricotta mixture.
Parsely– Use fresh Italian flat parsley and cut it finely. It will give a slightly peppery taste to the ricotta and lemon pasta. Also is used to make pesto.
Olive oil– Use extra virgin olive oil to blend properly the parsley pesto.
Pine nut– It is mixed in the blender along with lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley to make the pesto.
Pasta– I use spaghetti however any kind of pasta will work fine.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTION*
*Note: this is just a quick introduction. Please read the recipe card for the full instructions.
To speed up the cooking process and have a delicious one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon ready in 15 minutes I advise you to prepare the ricotta mixture once the water is starting boiling.
Boil the water
Add the lemon zest* into a large pot with plenty of water and bring to boil.
*Tip: the addition of the lemon zest will enhance the lemon flavor in the dish.
Once it is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Let cook the pasta according to the package instructions or until it becomes al dente*.
*Tip: don’t forget to reserve some pasta water to cream up the ricotta. Moreover, save an extra glass of water pasta to use if you need to reheat the leftover the next day.
Prepare the ricotta mix and the pesto
In a blender add the parsley leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend on high speed until is all combined and you have pesto texture.
In a large bowl, add and mix the ricotta, lemon, salt, garlic*, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and the cheeses. Once the pasta is cooked add the water pasta to the bowl and give a good mix until it becomes creamy.
*Tip: reduce the garlic to a paste using the heel of your hand by pressing the blade down on the clove to smash the garlic. Press and drag the garlic with the blade flat until you have a garlic paste. This way the garlic will bind better in the mixture and you will not find any unpleasant garlic bits in your month.
Toss the pasta
Drain and pour the pasta* over the ricotta mixture and combine until the pasta is fully coated. Serve immediately and garnish the lemon ricotta pasta with some grated Parmiggiano Reggiano and some parsley pesto on top.
*Note: there is no need to heat the ricotta sauce and the pasta on the stove. The sauce is already creamy and doing so will risk ruining its texture.
Pasta– Any type of pasta short or long will work wonderfully with lemon ricotta pasta. However, if you don’t have any spaghetti use short pasta like penne, rigatoni, farfalle, orecchiette, fusilli pasta, or Gemelli pasta. Another valid alternative is to use wholemeal pasta or gluten-free for a diet-friendly version.
Ricotta-The cow’s milk ricotta has a delicate taste however If you are looking for a more strong flavor I suggest using half cow’s ricotta and half sheep’s ricotta. The sheep’s ricotta has a slightly stronger taste with a delicate vegetable note. But if you are lucky enough to find buffalo’s ricotta use it to replace the cow’s ricotta in this recipe, it has an incredible flavor that stands apart from all the others.
Cheese– If you are not a lover of the Pecorino Romano you can replace it with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Nuts– If you want to add an extra flavor and crunch, sprinkle on top of the lemon ricotta pasta some toasted pine nuts.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How to store the leftover?
Fridge- Store the leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat the pasta into a medium frying pan on low heat and add little water pasta to cream up the dish.
Freeze- I don’t recommend freezing this pasta dish, as it will ruin all the consistency of the dish.
Will ricotta melt in sauce?
Yes, of course. The pasta water will cream up the sauce thanks to the high percentage of starch that the pasta releases during cooking.
Can I serve the pasta without the pesto?
Yes, of course. You can definitely skip the pesto and serve just with the pasta with the ricotta sauce.
What does ricotta go with?
Ricotta has a delicate and sweet flavor; for this reason, it can go well with countless dishes such as this farfalle with ricotta and peas.
MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
One pot pasta with ricotta and lemon
- 1 Large bowl
- 1 Balloon whisk
- 1 Large pan to cook the pasta
- 1 Grater
- 1 Vegetable Knife
- 1 Chopping board
- 200 gr whole milk ricotta
- 1 garlic clove
- 6 gr fresh lemon juice
- 5 gr unwaxed lemon zest
- 11 gr Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 8 gr Pecorino Romano grated
- ½ tsp Maldon salt
- 5 gr Italian flat parsley finely chopped
- 1 unwaxed lemon zest
- 50 gr water pasta
- 300 gr spaghetti
- 1 long zest unwaxed lemon
Parsley pesto optional
- 15 gr Italian flat parsley leaves whased
- 40 gr olive oil extra virgin
- 7 gr pine nut
- 1 pinch Maldon salt
- ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Boil the water
- In a large pot add plenty of water, and the lemon zest, and bring to a boil on high heat. Once it is boiling add the salt and the pasta. Let cook it according to the package instructions or until it becomes al dente. Don't forget to reserve some pasta water to cream up the ricotta. Moreover, save an extra glass of water pasta to use in case you need to reheat the leftover the next day.
Mix the ricotta sauce
- Reduce the garlic to a paste using the heel of your hand by pressing the blade down on the clove to smash the garlic. Press and drag the garlic with the blade flat until you have a garlic paste. This way the garlic will bind better in the mixture and you will not find any unpleasant garlic bits in your month.
- In a large bowl, add and mix until combined the ricotta, lemon, salt, garlic paste, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and the cheeses using a balloon whisk.
- In a blender add the parsley leaf, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend on high speed until is all combined and you have pesto texture.
Toss the pasta
- Once the pasta is cooked, add the water pasta to the bowl and give a good mix until it becomes creamy.
- Drain and pour the pasta over the ricotta mixture and combine until the pasta is fully coated.
- Serve immediately and garnish the lemon ricotta pasta with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and some pesto parsley.