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Lemon Ricotta Pasta

This lemon ricotta pasta is creamy, zesty and full of fresh flavor. The best part is that it doesn’t take long to make, so you can whip it up easily on a busy night. Garnish it with some freshly sliced basil, and this dish will be too pretty to pass up.

A bowl of lemon ricotta pasta topped with sliced basil, lemon zest and lemon slices

One of the things I love most about cooking pasta is the endless possibilities. It’s a totally blank slate, and just a few simple ingredients can take it from good to great.

This ricotta pasta is one of those dishes. You don’t even need garlic, which is basically mind-blowing to me, and the ricotta cheese melts into a beautifully creamy sauce. You won’t be disappointed.

This dish comes together in about 15 minutes, so it makes a great quick lunch or dinner, you could also serve it with some pan-seared chicken breast for a more complete meal.

Close up of a bowl of lemon ricotta pasta topped with sliced basil and lemon zest, with a lemon slice

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Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Close up of fusilli pasta in a bowl topped with sliced basil and lemon zest.

How to make lemon ricotta pasta

Cook the pasta. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package for al dente.

I like using a twisty pasta for this recipe because it holds the sauce really well, but any pasta you have on hand will do.

When the pasta is ready, reserve a little bit of pasta water (I usually save about 1/2 – 1 cup) and drain the rest in a colander.

Make the sauce. Return the pasta back to the pot you cooked it in, and add the ricotta, pecorino (or parmesan), lemon juice and zest.

Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and stir to combine. As the cheese melts, slowly add more pasta water until you get a creamy sauce.

Garnish and serve. Season with salt & pepper to taste, and top with fresh basil before serving.

A bowl of lemon ricotta pasta topped with sliced basil, lemon zest and lemon slices

FAQs and tips for making lemon ricotta pasta

Does ricotta cheese melt?

Ricotta cheese is one of a few cheeses that actually does not technically melt. It combines nicely with the hot pasta water and other ingredients in the dish to create a creamy “melty” sauce, but it’s not technically melted.

Do you have to cook ricotta cheese?

No. You can eat ricotta cheese without cooking it, but in the recipe we are going to heat it up with reserved pasta water that will slightly cook it.

Can I use mascarpone cheese as a substitute for ricotta cheese?

You can, but mascarpone cheese has a denser consistency so it may change the final dish a bit. The sauce will also be a tiny bit sweeter with a more pronounced flavor.

A bowl of fusilli topped with sliced basil, lemon zest and lemon slices

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Lemon Ricotta Pasta

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Fusilli
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian/American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This lemon ricotta pasta is creamy, zesty and full of fresh flavor. The best part is that it doesn’t take long to make, so you can whip it up easily on a busy night. Garnish it with some freshly sliced basil, and this dish will be too pretty to pass up.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 16 ounces fusilli
  • 1 15-ounce package part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano (or parmesan)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Coarse salt & black pepper, to taste
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Before draining, reserve 1/2 – 1 cup of pasta water for later.
  2. Return pasta to pot and stir in ricotta, pecorino cheese, lemon juice and zest with 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water.
  3. Stir to coat the pasta, slowly adding reserved water until a creamy sauce forms. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.
  4. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 332
  • Sugar: 2.5 g
  • Sodium: 209 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 47.7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 17 g
  • Cholesterol: 27.6 mg

Keywords: Lemon ricotta pasta, ricotta pasta, lemon pasta, lemon ricotta, easy pasta recipes, quick pasta recipes

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