Have you got 15 minutes? And 6 simple everyday ingredients? Then you have your dinner sorted! Our Quick Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe 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? All prepared with minimal effort!
- Why We Love This Recipe?
- Step-By-Step Recipe
- Fancy Adding A Little Something Extra?
- What Goes Well with Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti?
- Storage and Reheating
- Recipe FAQs
- Other Quick Pasta Recipes To Try
- Recipe Card
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Why We Love This Recipe?
Where do we start? First of all, we love that this creamy ricotta 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 the basil simply scream summer vibes to me! Just like the Green Pasta screams spring! And Mushroom Blue Cheese Pasta is all about autumn!
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 simple ingredients making an easy dinner any night of the week. If you love our Boursin Spaghetti, you will certainly like this recipe too!
The ingredients in this recipe are also not difficult to substitute, see Recipe FAQs below for tips and suggestions for substitutions. However, since only a handful of ingredients are required, try and use good quality products.
Three steps in this easy pasta recipe: cooking pasta al dente, mixing the sauce ingredients and assembling it all together!
STEP 1: Cooking the Pasta
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water, following the package instructions. 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
Whilst pasta cooks, mix the ricotta with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and some sea salt and black pepper 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 cup of the pasta water (about 60ml) 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 pasta water.
Turn the heat to medium and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the creamy sauce warms up, thickens slightly and the 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.
Alongside your favorite protein, add some of the following too:
- Add lots of fresh herbs in addition to or to replace basil. Parsley and chives work particularly well.
- Stir in some fresh spinach into the pasta and wait for it to wilt before enjoying the extra nutrition!
- Mix in some Italian seasoning.
- Scatter some red pepper flakes on top of the creamy pasta for colour vibrancy and extra flavour.
What Goes Well with Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti?
A bunch of different things go oh-so-well with this zesty lemon ricotta pasta. 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:
- Courgette Ribbon Salad with Earl Gray and Honey Dressing
- Lemon and Garlic Tenderstem Broccoli
- Fresh Arugula Salad
Storage and Reheating
Let your Lemon Ricotta Pasta cool down to room temperature. Then store it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Unfortunately, this creamy lemon ricotta pasta is best served freshly made, but we understand that you may have leftovers. To reheat the pasta, scoop it all out into a large skillet, add a splash of milk, water or heavy cream and stir on low heat for 3-4 minutes until warmed through. Alternatively, heat it in a microwave stirring the pasta halfway through.
Stir in some fresh basil and top with fresh lemon zest before serving.
There’s nothing out there exactly like fresh 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 make a delicious weeknight dinner:
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncini
- Mushroom & Blue Cheese Pasta
- 15-Minute Red Pesto Pasta With Prawns
- Pasta Napoletana
- Prawn Pasta with Herbs From the Garden
- Smoked Salmon & Spinach Pasta
One-Pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- 200 g spaghetti
- 125 g ricotta
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 2 tablespoon 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!