This lemon ricotta pasta recipe makes a creamy, zingy sauce in minutes! It’s a shortcut that makes mealtime easy.
Here’s a quick and simple pasta recipe that’s the perfect shortcut for weeknights: Lemon Ricotta Pasta! Mixing ricotta cheese with olive oil, Parmesan and a little pasta water makes a makeshift white sauce that’s ideal for coating on long noodles (who knew!). This quick weeknight trick has become a staple over here: the zing of the lemon zest makes it absolutely irresistible not to keep slurping down noodles.
Ingredients in lemon ricotta pasta
Ricotta is a creamy Italian cheese with a mild flavor that’s famous for its use in lasagna: but it’s ideal for long noodles, too. The great part about this lemon ricotta pasta? It requires just 1 minute of cooking to form a beautifully creamy white sauce. You’ll literally stir together a few ingredients and voila: a creamy sauce. Here’s what you’ll need for whipping up this pasta at home:
Bucatini or spaghetti noodles (or your noodle of choice)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Tips for lemon ricotta pasta
This lemon ricotta pasta recipe could not be easier: boil the pasta, stir together the sauce ingredients, and combine! There’s not much cooking here. But there are a few minor tips that can make or break the recipe:
Save the pasta water! This ingredient is used to make a creamy sauce. It’s easy to forget (been there), so my mom shared a tip with us that helps. After you start the pasta, place your strainer in the sink, then place a liquid measuring cup inside as a reminder. When you go to dump the pasta, you’ll think: what’s that liquid measuring cup? Oh yes, I need to save the pasta water!
Make sure to cook the pasta to al dente. This means “to the bite” in Italian: when it’s tender with a small white speck inside when you bite into a piece. Boil it a few minutes less than the package instructions indicate, and start taste testing early!
The texture is best when served immediately. This lemon ricotta pasta is best when the pasta is freshly cooked and it’s warm: especially since you use the pasta water to help create the sauce. You can eat it later, but it does get drier in texture.
Leftovers and storage instructions
Want to eat this lemon ricotta pasta the next day? You can, though it’s not quite as good as the day of. This pasta is best with piping hot fresh pasta and sauce warm from the stove. It does get a gummier texture as it sits, and especially once it’s cooled. Here’s how to freshen up your leftovers:
Leftovers become drier over time, and with refrigeration. You can store the pasta about 2 days refrigerated, but the texture becomes drier.
How to reheat it? You can reheat the pasta with a splash of milk on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt. Make sure to generously garnish with grated Parmesan cheese as well.
What to serve with lemon ricotta pasta
Want a few fast and easy side dishes to serve with this pasta? Anything from a quick green salad to lemony peas works here. If you’re serving it as a main dish, think about dishes that add additional protein. Here are a few ideas:
For the garnish: chopped parsley, red pepper flakes (optional)
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. Using a glass liquid measuring cup, reserve ½ cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta.
In a saucepan, mix the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper, lemon zest, and ¼ cup pasta water. Warm over medium heat and stir until a creamy sauce forms, about 1 minute.
Pour the sauce onto the noodles and stir to combine. Add another splash of pasta water to help the sauce coat the noodles. Serve with chopped parsley, additional grated Parmesan cheese and the reserved lemon zest. (Leftovers last 2 days refrigerated but the sauce becomes thick when cold. Reheat with a splash of milk and additional kosher salt to revive the flavors.)
Don’t you just love a good, cheesy pasta recipe? Cacio e Pepe is a classic and one of my favorite EASY meals. Translated, “cacio e pepe” means “cheese and pepper,” so you know it’s going to be good! It’s a trad…
Don’t you just love a good, cheesy pasta recipe? Cacio e Pepe is a classic and one of my favorite EASY meals. Translated, “cacio e pepe” means “cheese and pepper,” so you know it’s going to be good! It’s a traditional Roman dish that you can order at most Italian restaurants. But don’t worry, you…
Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner. It’s late summer and our basil plant is massive. We’ve got pesto coming out of our ears over here. The best way to make this tasty sauce into a fast and easy dinner? Pesto spaghetti! It’s herby, Parmesan-y, garlicky and always a crowd pleaser. We’ll show you the trick to getting a silky sauce covering all your noodles: no more gummy, dry pesto here! Serve them as is, or top with veggies or shrimp for a fast and easy dinner. Here’s what you need to know to make the best spaghetti pesto around! Another idea? Try our Easy Pesto Cream Sauce. How to get the best pesto coverage: pasta water! Here’s the thing. You can make spaghetti pesto by simply mixing pesto with spaghetti. Ever done this and ended up with dry, gummy pasta? It’s a problem. The nuts and the cheese in the thick pesto sauce cling to the noodles if you don’t give them a little help. Here’s what to do to make the pesto perfectly coat the noodles: Add pasta water! […]
Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.
It’s late summer and our basil plant is massive. We’ve got pesto coming out of our ears over here. The best way to make this tasty sauce into a fast and easy dinner? Pesto spaghetti! It’s herby, Parmesan-y, garlicky and always a crowd pleaser. We’ll show you the trick to getting a silky sauce covering all your noodles: no more gummy, dry pesto here! Serve them as is, or top with veggies or shrimp for a fast and easy dinner. Here’s what you need to know to make the best spaghetti pesto around!
Here’s the thing. You can make spaghetti pesto by simply mixing pesto with spaghetti. Ever done this and ended up with dry, gummy pasta? It’s a problem. The nuts and the cheese in the thick pesto sauce cling to the noodles if you don’t give them a little help. Here’s what to do to make the pesto perfectly coat the noodles:
Add pasta water! This is a common Italian technique for cooking pasta. You’ll add cheese and then toss it with the pasta water to create a quick sauce. The starchy pasta water makes the perfect thick and creamy sauce. Same goes for pesto! Start with 1/2 cup pasta water, then add more as necessary until the noodles are slick.
Toss the noodles and pesto in a bowl: not the pasta pot. The pasta pot is still hot from cooking the pasta. So it can turn the basil brown and stick to the bottom of the pot. So toss the noodles and pesto together in a bowl: it works much better (we picked up that method here).
Spaghetti pesto is best with homemade pesto
It goes without saying that spaghetti pesto tastes the best with homemade pesto. The flavor here is beautifully fresh: and our pesto recipe has lemon for just the right zing! But we get it: basil isn’t always available. If you’re going storebought, go to the next section. But if you do have basil on hand, here are some things to know:
Make pesto with any nut you like. Pine nuts, the traditional nut in pesto, can be expensive and hard to find. So you can easily use cashews or walnuts! Here are our best pesto recipes using all three: Basil Pesto, Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
You can make vegan pesto, too. Nix the Parmesan and you’ve got a dairy-free pesto! Try this Vegan Pesto that uses a secret ingredient.
There’s also a nut free option. This Basil Sauce has no nuts or cheese!It’s so oily on its own you don’t need to add pasta water, skip that step if using this one.
Or, use best quality purchased pesto!
To make this spaghetti pesto an easy weeknight meal, just use storebought pesto! It’s easy to find, but there are a few things to know about purchased pesto:
The quality of brands varies greatly: so experiment! All brands vary quite a bit in flavor: some are light and fresh, others can taste stale or dull. Make sure to experiment to find one you like.
The salt quantity also varies, so adjust the added salt as needed. After tossing the pesto and spaghetti, add additional salt to taste. With homemade pesto we added 1/4 teaspoon salt, but we change it when we’re using a purchased pesto brand.
Variations on spaghetti pesto
Once you’ve made your pesto spaghetti, there are lots of tasty adders to make it an even tastier meal. Add other vegetables or proteins to customize your pasta: or different pasta shapes!. Here are a few ideas for how to switch it up:
Use different pasta — like bucatini or penne. Bucataini is like hollow spaghetti, and it’s our favorite type of pasta. Or use a short-cut shape like penne, cavatappi or bowties.
Sliced cherry tomatoes. Slice them up and they add a beautiful color.
Tomatoes & fresh mozzarella chunks. Makes anything better.
What to serve with spaghetti pesto? This is an especially good question if you’re making this as a vegan or vegetarian dinner idea. It’s important to integrate a source of plant-based protein so that the meal is filling. Here are some options for what to serve as a side dish with pesto pasta:
White beans. Our top choice are these 5-minute Easy Cannellini Beans: they’re Mediterranean style and add a great kick of protein.
1 large handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Just before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta water! Then drain the pasta.
Place the pasta in a bowl (not the pasta pot). Stir together the pasta, pesto, and 1/2 cup pasta water, tossing with tongs until the pesto is well distributed and the pasta water forms a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if desired. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and taste. If the flavor doesn’t pop, add a few more pinches until it does (the salt content in purchased pesto brands varies, as well as the amount of salt you used in the pasta water). Serve immediately.
Store any leftovers refrigerated: note that pesto can get gummy when reheated, so it’s best to eat leftovers cold or room temp.
*This spaghetti pesto tastes best with homemade pesto! If fresh basil is not available, use your best quality store brand. Brands vary widely especially in salt content, so adjust salt to taste.
Keywords: Pesto spaghetti, spaghetti pesto pasta
More recipes with pesto
There are so many great ways to use pesto! Try these pesto recipes:
Pesto Pizza Full of big flavor! Top with mozzarella and thin sliced tomatoes and dinner is serve.
Pesto Mac and Cheese A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This one features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess.
Pesto Aioli This pesto aioli is full of incredible basil and Parmesan flavor! Use it for dipping French fries or to slather on a burger or sandwich.
Definitely ready to dive into this plate of garlic sauce pasta. There’s roasted broccoli (of course), juicy shrimp (even better), some parsley, crushed red pepper and alllll the garlic you can imagine. Toasty and golden and wonderful and delicious. SIGN ME UP. This meal is SO GOOD. You roast the broccoli and shrimp on a […]
Definitely ready to dive into this plate of garlic sauce pasta.
There’s roasted broccoli (of course), juicy shrimp (even better), some parsley, crushed red pepper and alllll the garlic you can imagine. Toasty and golden and wonderful and delicious. SIGN ME UP.
This meal is SO GOOD. You roast the broccoli and shrimp on a sheet pan while you cook the pasta and garlic oil. It all comes together in 30 minutes to create a sophisticated little meal that definitely seems sort of fancy.
And um hello, can we talk about how good this would be with a bottle of white wine? And how the recipe only really has ten ingredients? For so much major flavor? I’m in love!
The garlic oil sauce alone is unreal. Honestly I could eat a bowl of noodles swimming in this. With nothing else.
Okay, maybe with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
But really, the garlic sauce is life changing. I make it often for Eddie – he loves it too. It can go in so many dishes if you don’t want to use marinara. An it makes for great leftovers!
I’ve been cooking like a crazy person the last few weeks – it is great stress relief for me. Not just cooking for us to eat, but cooking and giving meals to family and friends. It’s one of the only things that is making me feel better right now. I’ve spent more time in the kitchen just being creative and throwing together comforting meals than I do in my everyday work life.
It’s caused me to slow down a little in the kitchen too… and I actually love it. Even if I still want mostly 30-minute meals.
There’s something about the golden, caramely garlic sprinkled throughout the pasta that is so comforting to me. I don’t know if it’s because I remember my mom making linguine and clam sauce in the 90s (which is a totally different dish!) but it just feels nostalgic right now.
And don’t worry – toasting the garlic in the oil reduces a lot of the garlicky bite and sting. This makes it so much more manageable! Plus, we can’t go anywhere so who cares if we consume six cloves of garlic in one sitting?
I’m in and I’d like a plate of this for breakfast, please and thank you.
Garlic Sauce Pasta with Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
Garlic Sauce Bucatini with Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
This garlic sauce pasta is incredible! Roasted shrimp and broccoli twirled with garlic oil noodles and crushed red pepper. Divine!
Course Main Course
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 25minutes
Total Time 35minutes
Author How Sweet Eats
½teaspoonfreshly cracked black pepper
1poundraw,peeled and deveined shrimp
6garlic cloves,thinly sliced
½teaspooncrushed red pepper flakes
2tablespoonschopped fresh parsley
parmesan cheese,for serving
lemon wedges,for spritzing
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the bucatini according to package directions.
Place the broccoli on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
While the broccoli is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add in the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is just golden. Turn off the heat or keep it very low.
Remove the sheet from the oven and push the broccoli to one side. Place the shrimp in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Roast the shrimp for 6 to 8 minutes, until just opaque and pink.
Toss the bucatini into the garlic oil, coating all the noodles well. Toss the shrimp and broccoli in with the pasta. Toss in the parsley. Spritz on some fresh lemon. Serve with parmesan cheese and extra crushed red pepper flakes!
This is where I try to convince you to make red wine pasta! Annnd moving right along to Valentine’s Day dinner… here we are! Though I have to say that I would like a plate of red wine bucatini for dinner TONIGHT. Just a regular old Wednesday. I mean, why not? I first saw this […]
This is where I try to convince you to make red wine pasta!
Annnd moving right along to Valentine’s Day dinner… here we are!
Though I have to say that I would like a plate of red wine bucatini for dinner TONIGHT. Just a regular old Wednesday. I mean, why not?
I first saw this recipe before Christmas and instantly wanted it but also instantly thought it would be perrrfect for Valentine’s Day. Seriously, I haven’t stopped thinking about it! And of course, I was super intrigued too – pasta tossed in red wine? HELLO! I am so there.
I have never seen anything like this or even heard of the dish (though a quick google search told me it’s definitely a thing) – most likely because I have zero Italian roots anywhere. Plus, it’s my least favorite cuisine so it’s not like I’m out searching for Italian recipes to make all the time.
Red wine pasta might be a game changer. Italian food is slowly creeping up the list for me.
What I love about this recipe?
It’s oddly simple. Simple in terms of ingredients – not flavor! It’s kind of like a cacio e pepe or an easy traditional carbonara. A pasta tossed with tons of flavor and not lots of ingredients – it’s not like there is shrimp or a lot of roasted vegetables or anything twirled in between the noodles. You know?
Instead, you cook a ton of garlic and red pepper flakes until golden and fragrant and THEN you pour in an entire bottle of red wine. Yes. An entire bottle! You cook it down until it has reduced by nearly half. Then you toss your pasta directly in it (with tons of butter) and the pasta soaks up all the wine.
In a really good way, that is. It soaks up all the rich flavor.
And then we go and make it even MORE flavorful by topping it with pancetta and parmesan and herbs.
I am completely in LOVE with this. It’s so different from anything I’ve had before. And I love the idea of serving it for Valentine’s Day! This alone is filling enough for me (I mean, sure, maybe add some garlic bread, why not?) but you could absolutely add something on the side! Like sautéed shrimp? Serve it as a side to a filet? Or just make a really big house salad to go along with it.
I swear you are going to love.it.
Red Wine Pasta with Pancetta and Parmesan
Red Wine Bucatini with Pancetta and Parmesan
This red wine pasta is an easy, flavorful dinner! Red wine cooked down with garlic and butter until sauce-like. Throw in noodles and you have dinner!
4 ounces diced pancetta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves, (minced or pressed)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and pepper
1 (750mL) bottle red wine, such as cabernet or pinot noir
1 pound bucatini pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley and basil for topping
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is crispy and the fat has been rendered. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain any excess grease.
Add the 1 tablespoon of butter to the pot and keep it over medium heat. Add in the garlic and pepper flakes with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant and slightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the red wine and bring it to a book. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the wine reduces by ½ to ⅔ – this will take about 20 minutes.
While the red wine is boiling, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the bucatini. Cook it until it’s very al dente – about 9 to 10 minutes – then transfer it to the red wine in the pot.
Add the butter to the pot with the pasta as well. Toss the pasta in the red wine sauce and cook it for another 2 to 3 minutes – the sauce will thicken and the noodles will soak it up. Toss in the pancetta.
Serve the pasta and top with the parmesan and herbs.