Lemon Ricotta Pasta

4.84 from 6 votes

Lemon Ricotta Pasta is a vegetarian bright, flavorful and easy weeknight dinner recipe that comes together in less than 20 minutes using simple pantry items

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe is sponsored by Gourmet Garden. As always, all opinions are my own 🙂

I am always in the mood for pasta and I love making simple bright sauces that don’t weigh down the dish. This Lemon Ricotta Pasta is made with ricotta, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and pasta water. The secret to getting that delicious sauce is the garlic and pasta water that cook together to emulsify and cling to the ricotta.

Final lemon ricotta pasta made with Gourmet Garden garlic paste

Easy weeknight pasta dinner

October 17 is National Pasta Day, and I’m partnering with Gourmet Garden to celebrate one of my favorite foods ever using their herbs and spices. They’re all about convenience and flavor to enhance any pasta dish in a flash!

In this lemon ricotta pasta, I use their Garlic Stir-In Paste in the base of the sauce which limits time peeling and crushing garlic. I also finish the dish with their Lightly Dried Basil to add a bright finish to the dish in a pinch! And that means weeknight dinner never looked easier than this!

And the good news is after I use a little of this and a little of that, their products stay fresh in the refrigerator for weeks (even months for the Garlic Stir-in Paste!). That means less “wilt guilt” for me. And it’s possible that also means more weeknight pasta dinners because of how easy they come together. I love having access to Gourmet Garden fresh herbs and spices whenever inspiration strikes. They are also easy to find in the store right in the refrigerated produce section, next to fresh herbs.

How to make lemon ricotta pasta

Cook the pasta

Get some pasta cooking in one pot. Cook it al dente and reserve a cup of pasta water.

Make the sauce

Start with ¼ cup of olive oil. It may seem like a lot, but this will be used to cook the garlic and will be the base for the sauce in this Lemon Ricotta Pasta. Measure out a teaspoon of the Gourmet Garden Garlic Stir-in Paste. One teaspoon replaces one medium clove of garlic. Allow the garlic to cook for a couple minutes with the oil until it becomes fragrant.

Pan full of olive oil and adding garlic paste on top

Then immediately whisk in the ricotta, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper until well combined.

Add the pasta water in and whisk until the sauce is smooth. At first it may seem like you thinned it too much, but it will thicken as it cools and turn into the perfect consistency.

Collage to show how to make the sauce before and after mixing

Put it all together

Then it’s time to add in the pasta and mix everything well to combine and coat each piece of pasta with the sauce. If the sauce seems yellow from the olive oil at first, it will soon blend in easily with the pasta.

This is also the time when you can add some steamed vegetables to the pasta dish. Or if you’re using spinach or kale, you can just mix them right in. The heat from the pasta will soften the kale.

Pasta added to the sauce and mixed together

I told you it was an easy weeknight pasta dinner. The sauce takes less than 5 minutes to make. It’s full of flavor from the garlic and lemon juice while still being ultra-creamy from the ricotta and the melted parmesan cheese. And the pasta water helps to cling everything together and bind the sauce to the pasta.

This lemon ricotta pasta feels like such an elegant gourmet dish, but the time invested in it is really minimal! It has a bright tang that can really be made and served all year round and switched up with various vegetables and/or proteins.

Tips for making lemon ricotta pasta

  1. Use small-shaped pasta shape. That’s the kind that best complements the lemon ricotta sauce and will hold the sauce well. Think of using cavatappi, like I did or rotini, penne or fusilli.
  2. Salt the pasta water.  Salt penetrates the pasta while boiling, allowing it to get properly flavored. It’s much harder to flavor pasta after it’s been cooked, and you will most likely end up using way more salt than needed. Plus, we’re going to be using this salted pasta water in the lemon ricotta pasta sauce!
  3. Cook the pasta al dente.  I highly recommend cooking the pasta al dente, so it has a nice bite to it even after it’s been tossed in the warm sauce. You don’t want it to become soggy after you toss it in the sauce for a couple minutes. 
  4. Don’t rinse or drain the pasta after cooking. You want to toss the hot pasta with the sauce without letting the pasta drain or cool. I recommend that you transfer it directly from the pot it was cooking into the skillet using a slotted spoon. Then toss quickly and thoroughly.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta in a large sauce pan served with kale and lemon slices

For more vegetarian pasta dishes:

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Thank you Gourmet Garden for sponsoring this Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Lemon Ricotta Pasta is a vegetarian bright, flavorful and easy weeknight dinner recipe that comes together in less than 20 minutes using simple pantry items
4.8 from 6 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Dinner, Entree
Calories 431
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 17 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta or other kind
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Garlic Stir-In Paste
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta 8 ounces
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice plus zest
  • 8 ounces kale shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Basil for serving

Instructions

  • 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, heat the olive oil at medium heat. Then add the garlic paste and cook until fragrant. Whisk in the ricotta, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Add ½ cup pasta water to the sauce and whisk until smooth. Add the pasta and the kale and continue to stir until the noodles are well coated and the kale softens. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth sauce.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and basil, if desired.

Video

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 4-5 days in the fridge.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • To make it gluten-free, you can use any gluten-free pasta of your choice.
  • To make the sauce more creamy, you can add some milk instead of some of the pasta water. 
  • Feel free to substitute the kale with spinach, or other vegetables like broccoli, peas or green beans.
Nutritional Data: The information below is an automated estimate. It could vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 431kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 447mg, Potassium: 377mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 4056IU, Vitamin C: 49mg, Calcium: 301mg, Iron: 2mg

Share this recipe

Share it with the world! Mention @feelgoodfoodie or tag #feelgoodfoodie!

Lemon Ricotta Pasta in a large sauce pan served with kale and lemon slices

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

    1. Excited for you to give it a go! I used two pots to make this, but let me know if you attempt it all in one pot!

  1. Tried half portion of this for the two of us, substituted spinach for kale and added in some leftover rotisserie chicken. It was excellent! Will definitely do again.

  2. I doubled this recipe and didn’t get the proportions right … sauce got too thick and not enough lemon flavor. It was delicious, however, kids devoured every bite and asked to have it again with more spinach, add chicken, maybe broccoli. Going to try it with the pepper flakes, too!

  3. I made this for dinner last night, and it was so easy but flavorful. The lemon gave the ricotta sauce a nice zing while the bitterness of the kale balanced the tang and cheese. I added grilled chicken to my dish. Thank you for this delicious recipe. I WILL make it again. I think I will add red pepper flake next time just for a little kick.

    1. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for sharing!! And I love the idea of adding red pepper flakes to it!