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Ricotta Lemon Pasta Sauce for One

Here is a wonderfully easy low-cook creamy lemon ricotta pasta sauce you can prepare with just a handful of ingredients. Some would classify this as a no-cook sauce because indeed the sauce ingredients don’t require cooking, however, since you do need to cook the pasta I prefer to consider this a low-cook meal.

Check out more easy dinner-for-one recipes including, red pepper sauce, spaghetti puttanesca and a slow cooker sausage and peppers.

Why This Recipe Works


With just a few ingredients in the right proportions and minimal effort, this creamy sauce is perfect for a weeknight dinner. You stir together a handful of fresh ingredients and viola a delicious sauce! Full of creamy lemon flavor and ready in about as long as it takes to cook the pasta this is the perfect meal for any night of the week. Sometimes the best recipes are also the easiest.

This easy lemon ricotta pasta has a delicious flavor and also makes a great side dish served with grilled chicken or pan fried salmon.

Ingredients Notes

4 ounces Pasta, spaghetti, or linguine
1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/3 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoon Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed
6-8 basil leaves, torn or chopped

  • Pasta: I used a spaghetti but another type of pasta recommended include bow tie, linguine or penne. I always cook my pasta al dente.
  • Pasta water: Right before you drain the pasta reserve about a cup of the hot starchy pasta water to use to thin the lemon ricotta sauce if needed.
  • Garlic Fresh garlic cloves or a chunky garlic paste should be used.
  • Cheeses: Use a whole milk Ricotta cheese for the sauce and an aged Parmesan for sprinkling on the pasta.
  • Lemon Juice: Use fresh lemon juice and little lemon zest to increase the flavor. I don’t recommend a bottled juice
  • Basil leaves: You do need fresh basil. Dried basil is not recommended for this sauce. When adding the basil you can also add a little olive oil to the sauce.
  • Optional ingredients: add in some red pepper flakes, a little black pepper or make this a heartier meal and add a grilled chicken breast and serve with a side of garlic bread.

Step by Step Recipe Directions


(Note: please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the complete written instructions.)

In a large pot of salted boiling water prepare the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and leave the pasta in the colander. Reserve about a cup of the water from the pasta pot. Do not rinse the pasta. The starch helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.

Add the Ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the pasta pot and whisk until the sauce is well combined and sauce ingredients are smooth.

Add the cooked pasta to the ricotta mixture and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to thin and smooth out the sauce. Stir in the fresh basil and olive oil.

Serve with a little extra lemon on the side and serve immediately.

My homemade Ciabatta rolls go great with this pasta dish!

Helpful Cooking Tips

  • Always salt the pasta water, this really brings out the flavor. Pasta cooked in unsalted water is bland.
  • Reserve a little of the pasta water to use for thinning out the sauce.
  • Never rinse the pasta, the starch helps the sauce to grab onto the noodles.
  • Stir Fresh basil into the sauce right before serving.

Useful Tools

Le Creuset 2.5 quart french oven like the one used for this recipe. Do you want to buy a dutch or french oven?

How to Store Leftovers

Pasta store very well, covered in the refrigerator. To reheat in the microwave. If needed, stir in a little bit of water or more lemon juice to thin out.

Frequently Asked Question

What other cheese can I use for the sauce?

Use Creme Fraiche and increase the parmesan. You can also substitute Pecorini cheese for the parmesan.

What other pasta can I use?

Linguine and Penne work very well. You want pasta that will allow the sauce to stick to the pasta.

More Easy Pasta for One Dinners

Did you make this recipe? I would love it if you left a comment or review! Be sure to sign up for the email list and follow “A Weekend Cook” on Pinterest and my Facebook page.

Lemon ricotta spahettin in small grey le crueset pan.

Ricotta Lemon Pasta Sauce

A creamy sauce of ricotta, lemon, and spinach.Ready in about 20 minutes, the perfect weeknight meal for one.
4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 .5 cups
Calories: 674kcal
Author:Sydney Dawes

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces Pasta spaghetti, or linguine
  • ½ cup pasta water reserved
  • 1 clove of garlic pressed
  • cup Ricotta cheese room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoon Lemon Juice fresh squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 6-8 basil leaves torn or chopped

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and leave the pasta in the colander. Reserve 1/2 cup of the water from the pasta pot. Do not rinse the pasta. The starch helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.
  • Add the Ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice,zest, salt, and pepper to the pasta pot and stir until the sauce is well combined.
  • Add the pasta, and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to thin and smooth out the sauce.
  • Stir in the basil and olive oil and serve immediately.

Notes

Pasta: Recommended kinds of pasta are spaghetti, linguine, farfalle, or penne.
Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh lemons for the zest and juice, as bottled lemon juice can taste artificial and lacks the depth of flavor fresh lemons provide. Similarly, fresh ricotta will give a smoother, creamier sauce than packaged ricotta.
Zest the Lemon First: Before juicing your lemons, make sure to zest them first. The zest contains oils that are packed with lemon flavor and will add a bright, citrusy note to your sauce.
Balance the Flavors: The tanginess of the lemon should be balanced by the creaminess of the ricotta. Start with the juice of one lemon, taste and adjust as necessary. Adding a bit of the pasta cooking water can help balance out the acidity and help the sauce emulsify.
Season Well: Don’t forget to season your sauce with salt and pepper. Salt enhances the flavors, and a touch of freshly ground black pepper adds a hint of heat.
Add Ricotta at the End: Add the ricotta cheese after the pasta is already coated in the lemony sauce and the heat is off. This will prevent the ricotta from curdling and will keep your sauce smooth and creamy.
Garnish Appropriately: Fresh herbs like basil or parsley can add a pop of color and additional flavor. A sprinkle of lemon zest on top can also intensify the citrus flavor.
Serve Immediately: This type of pasta dish is best served immediately while the sauce is creamy and the pasta is hot. Leftovers can be reheated gently to avoid the sauce breaking.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 674kcal | Carbohydrates: 104g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 410mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g
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