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Creamy lemon ricotta pasta is a super easy vegetarian pasta recipe that only takes 20 minutes to make. It’s a fresh veggie pasta that’s perfect for lunch or even a light dinner. The lemon zest and juice make it extra zingy, and the pinenuts give this pasta just the right amount of crunchiness.

Upclose photo of a bowl of pasta

I absolutely love ricotta in pasta and even more so when it’s combined with spinach. My Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Cashew Milk Bechamel are an absolute dream and I make them way more often than I should.

But lemon and ricotta pasta is a fantastic combination in its own right. This recipe is creamy just from the ricotta and the starch in pasta water, without any cream.

I make this pasta with ricotta and spinach with fresh baby spinach and I top it off with some rocket as well. It’s a green, lemony dream that’s super light and works great for a quick lunch.

What do you need to make this creamy ricotta pasta?

To make this delicious, creamy vegetarian pasta, you need the following ingredients:

  • Pasta — I used cavatappi to make it, but literally any kind of pasta would be great, long or short. I made it with tagliatelle, linguine, and penne and they were all great.
  • Ricotta — In the UK, we don’t have many choices when it comes to ricotta, so I use the packaged version that you can find on the shelves of supermarkets. If you can get your hands on fresh ricotta where you live, use that instead.
  • Lemon — there’s a lot of lemon in this recipe, as it uses both the juice and the zest. If you think that’s too much, only use the juice and skip the zest or only use a pinch of it. If you’re like me and don’t think that there can be too much lemon in something, this veggie pasta will be right up your alley.
  • Baby spinach — you can use the leaves whole or chop them into that’s more to your liking. I often get baby spinach that’s not so baby, so I end up chopping it most of the time.
  • Pine nuts — these are optional but highly recommended as they add just the right amount of crunchiness to this creamy vegetarian pasta. I toast them for a minute and reserve some to sprinkle on individual bowls before serving.
Upclose photo of a bowl of pasta

How do you make it?

Bring a pot of water to boil and salt it generously. Boil the pasta 1 minute less than the instructions on the package. Reserve 2-3 cups of pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil into a large pan and fry the shallot for 1-2 minutes until it softens. Add the baby spinach to the pan and cook it for 2-3 minutes until it wilts.

Step by step instructions to make ricotta lemon pasta

Lower the heat and add the ricotta to the pan and break it down with a spoon. Add a bit of pasta water and stir until the ricotta melts and becomes creamy. Add more pasta water as needed while you do this. The sauce will be quite watery at this point but don’t allow it to reach a simmering point.

Transfer the pasta to the pan and stir well to incorporate the sauce. The ricotta sauce will thicken as the pasta absorbs the liquid. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, rocket and pine nuts (if using). Season to taste and serve topped with extra rocket, pine nuts, and lemon zest if you like.

Recipe notes and tips

  • Make this vegetarian pasta your own by adding some peas, artichokes, or grilled zucchini.
  • Don’t bring the sauce to a boil after you add the ricotta. Instead, stir it carefully until it incorporates into the sauce, adding some hot pasta water as needed.
  • Make sure you scrub off any protective wax the lemons may have before zesting them. Even better, try to use unwaxed lemons for this recipe.
A photo of a bowl of pasta with a lemon on the side

If you enjoyed this creamy lemon ricotta pasta, you might also like some of my other vegetarian pasta recipes:

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

One-Pot Gorgonzola, Walnut and Spinach Pasta (Pasta Gorgonzola e Noci)

Creamy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake

Looking for more delicious inspiration? Follow Skinny Spatula on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest! 

Prep Time
10 minutes

Cook Time
10 minutes

Total Time
20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250 g (1/2 lb) pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 100 g (3 cups) fresh baby spinach
  • 250 g (1 cup) ricotta
  • 1 large lemon, juice and zest
  • Rocket salad (arugula), one handful
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

    Bring a pot of water to boil and salt it generously. Boil the pasta 1 minute less than the instructions on the package. Reserve 2-3 cups of pasta water before draining.

    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil into a large pan and fry the shallot for 1-2 minutes until it softens. Add the baby spinach to the pan and cook it for 2-3 minutes until it wilts.

    Lower the heat and add the ricotta to the pan and break it down with a spoon. Add a bit of pasta water and stir until the ricotta melts and becomes creamy. Add more pasta water as needed while you do this. The sauce will be quite watery at this point but don’t allow it to reach a simmering point.

    Transfer the pasta to the pan and stir well to incorporate the sauce. The ricotta sauce will thicken as the pasta absorbs the liquid. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, rocket and pine nuts (if using). Season to taste and serve topped with extra rocket, pine nuts, and lemon zest if you like.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving

Calories 288Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 19mgSodium 146mgCarbohydrates 27gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 13g

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

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