Have you got 15 minutes? And 6 simple everyday ingredients? Then you have your dinner sorted! Our Quick Lemon Ricotta Pasta is creamy, yet fresh and zingy, and most importantly, extremely delicious! This one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is a perfect vegetarian recipe for a lazy dinner without compromising on flavour! Who wouldn’t like spaghetti smothered in lemon ricotta sauce, all topped with lemon zest, basil and parmesan?
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Why We Love This Recipe?
Where do we start? First of all, we love that this ricotta and lemon pasta is perfect for any season of the year. The creaminess of the soft cheese makes it a perfect dish for cold winter nights, but the zinginess of the lemon and the freshness of basil simply scream summer vibes to me!
What is more, this is possibly the quickest pasta dish we make. For this one-pot lemon pasta, you will only need a pan, a bowl and a lemon zester! What is more, it comes together in 15 minutes, and only uses widely available ingredients!
The ingredients in this recipe are also not difficult to substitute, see Recipe FAQs below for tips and suggestions for substitutions.
STEP 1: Cooking the Pasta
Cook the spaghetti in a large pan with plenty of salted water, following the instructions on the packet. It typically takes 9-10 minutes to cook – but make sure to keep the pasta al dente (it may be worth cooking the pasta about a minute less than instructed on the packet).
STEP 2: Making the Lemon Ricotta Sauce
In the meantime, mix the ricotta with lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and some seasoning in a small bowl.
Prepare the basil by taking the leaves of the stalks (discard the stalks).
Towards the end of cooking, take out a small ladleful (60ml) of starchy pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta, then add it back to the pan immediately.
STEP 3: Assembling It Together
Add the lemon ricotta mixture and the reserved starchy water.
Turn the heat to medium and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the lemon ricotta sauce warms up, thickens slightly and spaghetti is all covered in it. Take the pasta off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil leaves and lemon zest. Serve with extra parmesan if you like!
Fancy Adding A Little Something Extra?
Whilst this ricotta and lemon pasta is absolutely delicious as it is, we understand that sometimes, you just need that little extra oomph to make you full and satisfied. If you fancy some more protein in this dish (although parmesan and ricotta sauce provides around 19g of protein per portion), there are a few things that we highly recommend:
- Any salmon leftovers: smoked, poached, pan-fried or baked salmon work very well in this dish.
- Prawns are another amazing addition. Simply toss cooked prawns through the ricotta pasta and serve.
- Spinach goes wonderfully with lemon and ricotta sauce. Simply a couple of handfuls of baby spinach after you’ve added the ricotta and starchy pasta water and cook long enough for the spinach to wilt.
- Chicken breast: shred cooked chicken into pieces and stir through the pasta at the same time as ricotta and water.
What Goes Well with Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti?
A bunch of different things go oh-so-well with this one-pot ricotta spaghetti. There’s nothing wrong with serving it with a typical sidekick to pasta – the traditional garlic bread, but if you wish to keep it on a lighter side, why not serve it with:
There’s nothing out there exactly like ricotta. We recommend using half sour cream and half cream cheese instead if you can’t get your hands on ricotta.
The trick is not to cook the pasta for too long once the ricotta lemon sauce is added, as it will thicken quickly. But if it happens (or if you’re reheating the pasta later) add a splash of water and cook for 30 seconds on medium-high heat.
This could be due to one of a few reasons. Firstly, your pasta water wasn’t starchy enough. Make sure you take the water out of the pasta pan at the end of cooking. Secondly, once you add the water and the ricotta mixture to the pasta, increase the heat to medium to help the excess moisture evaporate and the sauce thicken. Finally, it could be due to not properly draining the pasta. Whichever reason it may be, 30 seconds on higher heat should solve the problem.
We personally like the noodle-type pasta in this dish: spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle… Various other pasta shapes are designed to scoop up and retain a lot of sauce in their nooks and crannies, but since lemon ricotta sauce is creamy, you simply need the pasta covered in it, rather than have large amounts hiding in the cavities. If you want to learn more about pasta shapes, head to our article on Home-Made Pasta: Three Easy Pasta Dough Recipes & Ten Different Shapes.
Other Quick Pasta Recipes To Try
If you only have less than 30 minutes to get dinner on the table on a busy weekday, we get you! Here are some of our favourite unpretentious pasta dishes that are easy and quick to make:
Quick Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- 200 g spaghetti
- 125 g ricotta
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 20 g parmesan grated, plus extra to serve
- 15 g basil
- Cook the spaghetti in a large pan with plenty of salted water, following instructions on the packet. It typically takes 9-10 minutes to cook – but make sure to keep the pasta al dente (it maybe worth cooking the pasta about a minute less than instructed on the packet).
- In the meantime, mix the ricotta with lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and some seasoning in a small bowl.
- Prepare the basil by taking the leaves of the stalks (discard the stalks).
- Towards the end of cooking, take out a ladleful (60ml) of starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta, then add it back to the pan immediately. Add the lemon ricotta mixture and the the reserved starchy water.
- Turn the heat to medium and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the lemon ricotta sauce warms up, thickens slightly and spaghetti is all covered in it. Take the pasta off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil leaves and lemon zest.
- Serve with extra parmesan if you like!