This fresh and light One-Pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta with its creamy, delicious, no-cook sauce, can be made in the time it takes to boil pasta. Quick and easy - perfect for weeknight dinners!
Creamy ricotta, fresh lemon juice and zest, parmesan, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil are combined to make a fresh and simple no-cook sauce for pasta. A handful of arugula stirred in adds a bright, peppery kick to the creamy sauce.
Why you’ll love this One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
- Quick and Easy
- Ready in 20 minutes
- Simple, fresh ingredients
- Deliciously creamy, no-cook sauce
- One pot = easy clean up
Ingredients in Lemon Ricotta Pasta Recipe
Pasta – you can use any shaped pasta. Try rigatoni, spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, or even a small shape like orecchiette.
Ricotta – use the best quality, whole milk ricotta you can find. Skim milk ricotta will be grainy and won’t make a creamy sauce. For the creamiest sauce, try my Homemade Ricotta made with milk and cream.
Parmesan cheese– you can also use pecorino romano or pana gradano.
Lemon – zest and juice from about 2 lemons for a fresh and sunny flavor
Extra virgin olive oil – a little olive oil makes the sauce creamier. You could substitute butter or a little cream
Garlic – it’s totally optional, but if you’re a garlic lover, it adds a flavor dimension
Arugula – adds a bright, peppery flavor. You can leave it out completely or substitute spinach, kale, or fresh basil.
How to make Lemon Ricotta Pasta
Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Make the ricotta cheese pasta sauce: In the same pot (on the still warm burner with the burner turned off) add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until well combined.
Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to the sauce and whisk until smooth.
Combine the pasta, sauce, and arugula: Add the pasta and continue to stir until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for the consistency you like. Keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools.
Stir in the arugula if using.
Divide the pasta among bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes.
Tips for the best Pasta with Lemon and Pasta
- Generously salt the pasta water. Your pasta water should taste like the sea. This flavors the pasta as well as the sauce when it is mixed in.
- Save the pasta water! The starchy water is crucial in helping the sauce to emulsify. A trick I use so that I don’t forget to reserve a cup of water before draining – set the measuring cup inside the strainer in the sink while the pasta is cooking. When it comes time to drain the pasta, you’ll wonder why you put that there!
- Cook the pasta al dente so that it has a nice bite to it and doesn’t become soggy sitting in the warm sauce.
- Never rinse the pasta – you want the starches in the cooking water to cling to it.
- Use the best quality, whole milk ricotta you can find. Skim milk ricotta will be grainy and won’t make a creamy sauce. For the very best sauce, use my homemade ricotta made with milk and cream.
- Use the ricotta at room temperature.
- Use very finely and freshly grated parmesan
- Stir or whisk vigorously to make the sauce creamy before adding the pasta.
- Use enough salt to bring out the delicate flavors.
- Stirring in the arugula at the very end will soften it without it becoming to wilted.
- Serve the pasta immediately after tossing with the sauce. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Variations and add-ins
- Stir in marinated artichoke hearts
- Top with fried capers
- Substitute spinach, kale, watercress, or fresh basil for the arugula
- Add peas or asparagus in the last few minutes of the pasta boiling,
- Add a protein – chicken, shrimp, salmon, or sausage
How to store and reheat leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
The sauce will thicken and separate somewhat when it cools. To reheat, add a splash of milk or water and reheat on the stovetop, or warm in the microwave.
More pasta recipes for you to love:
- Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Lemon Artichoke Pasta with Chicken
- Italian Sausage and Basil Penne Pasta
- Chicken Bacon Mushroom Pasta
- Portobello and Mascarpone Pasta
- Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Italian Sausage and Tomato Pasta
- Pasta Caprese with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella
- Pappardelle with Creamy Ricotta Pesto
- Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Crispy Sage
- Spinach Artichoke Pasta
- Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
One-Pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Arugula
- Total Time: 25 minutes
This fresh and light pasta dish with its creamy, delicious, no-cook sauce, can be made in the time it takes to boil pasta. Quick and easy - perfect for weeknight dinners!
- 1 pound pasta (like rigatoni, spaghetti, or penne)
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino (2 ounces), plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic finely minced, optional
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- Red-pepper flakes, for serving
- Handful of arugula, spinach, basil, or kale, for serving (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- In the same pot (on the still warm burner with the burner turned off) add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until well combined.
- Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to the sauce and whisk until smooth.
- Add the pasta and continue to stir until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth sauce. Keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools.
- Stir in the arugula if using.
- Divide the pasta among bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes.
For the creamiest sauce, try my Homemade Ricotta made with cream and milk.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 20
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta, ricotta, easy, under 30 minutes, lemon, dinner
Simple yet so yummy and moreish with the creamy ricotta sauce!
It's so dreamy! Thanks so much, Angie!
David Scott Allen says
Dear Kellie - I am not sure what happened, but I am no longer receiving your post notifications. I saw something you posted on IG and it hit me - "Where's Kellie?" I tried to subscribe again (thinking it was a glitch) and it says I am already subscribed. Bummer. (I blame my internet provider - yours isn't the only one!)
Now, on to this pasta! I can't wait to make it. The flavors are "us" for sure. I will get some fresh ricotta at the farmers market tomorrow and we will be enjoying this one evening this week. And, in the meantime, I have made a list of all the blogs with which I am having issues and promise to visit weekly!
It could be from my side, David. I'm having trouble with Mailchimp going out and will be changing soon. I'll have to try it with ricotta from the farmers market. I've made it with ricotta from the supermarket and it was ok. When I made it with my homemade ricotta it was absolutely dreamy. My ricotta has almost the texture of sour cream so it's pretty wonderful in anything!
David Scott Allen says
The homemade ricotta version sounds wonderful, Kelly! (Why on earth did my computer autocorrect to Kellie - I don't even know anyone by that name! It did it today and - obviously - when I wrote my comment! Ugh...) I tried homemade ricotta once and it was a failure. Then I tried paneer and was very successful - they aren't that different, so I must try again.
I hope you get the Mailchip issues worked out. I will keep checking back if I don't hear from you! 🙂
I've had a few failures with homemade ricotta, too, David. I think my mistakes were not using a strong enough acid and stirring too vigorously and breaking the curds before they had a chance to firm up.
It's hard to believe that this pasta dish is so easy. Have never used ricotta as the main ingredient for pasta sauce, and why not? It looks and sounds like it's perfect for pasta. This is a keeper and quick meatless meals always go to the top of my list. Thanks!
It's so simple and so delicious! Thanks so much, MJ!
John / Kitchen Riffs says
What a terrific dish! We love pasta. And greens. And lemon. So great idea putting them all together. Thanks!
What an easy, delicious pasta recipe! It will be perfect for a quick summer dinner.
Ooh I love this Kelly. It's absolutely perfect for this time of year. I just put the table and chairs out in our back garden for summer and I can see Lynne and I enjoying this on an evening with a lovely cold glass of sauvignon to go with it!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
We often have a creamy tomato based pasta with ricotta and love it. Now I can't wait to try your lemon version with the arugula.
I'll have to try the tomato and ricotta! Thanks, Karen!