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.
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.
Table of Contents
4 ounces Pasta, spaghetti, or linguine
½ cup pasta water, reserved
1 clove of garlic, pressed
⅓ 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 ¼ 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.
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.
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
Use Creme Fraiche and increase the parmesan. You can also substitute Pecorini cheese for the parmesan.
Linguine and Penne work very well. You want pasta that will allow the sauce to stick to the pasta.
Ricotta Lemon Pasta Sauce
- 4 ounces Pasta spaghetti, or linguine
- ½ cup pasta water reserved
- 1 clove of garlic pressed
- ⅓ cup Ricotta cheese room temperature
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 tablespoon Lemon Juice fresh squeezed
- 6-8 basil leaves torn or chopped
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and leave the pasta in the colander. Reserve ½ 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 stir until the sauce is well combined.
- Add the pasta, and about ¼ cup of the pasta water to thin and smooth out the sauce.
- Stir in the basil and olive oil and serve immediately.