EASY LEMON RICOTTA PASTA & SPINACH

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I love this zesty lemon ricotta pasta with spinach, it makes a delish weeknight meal ready in less than 15 minutes. Simple, fresh ingredients, delicious flavor, and minimal effort.

This no-cook sauce is one of my go-to recipes from when I was at uni and can be made in no time. Mix creamy ricotta, parmesan cheese, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and refreshing lemon. Your pasta sauce is ready.

Easy peasy, economical, perfect for your carb cravings and so good.

Creamy lemon ricotta pasta with spinach on a white plate.

If you’re a big fan of lemons like me, you’ll love how their juice and zest transform a simple dish into something that tastes pure sunshine. And what about the creamy ricotta? I love it, especially when I used to buy fresh ricotta from the cheese counter in Italy (ahhh distant memories!)

To make this easy pasta dish healthier and more filling, don’t forget to add your greens. You could swap spinach for other delicious vegetables, or even protein like grilled chicken or salmon.  The sky is the limit!

Watch how to make it

What ingredients you need

  • Pasta
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Baby spinach
  • Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt and pepper

The ingredients for this lemon ricotta pasta are arranged on a white marble table.

  • Combine ricotta, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper
  • Mix well, taste and make sure you’re happy with the seasoning
  • Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al dente

Ricotta, lemon zest, olive oil and parmesan are mixed with a spoon on a glass bowl.

  • Reserve some pasta cooking water
  • Add spinach to the pot and cook for 1 minute
  • Drain pasta and spinach and return to the pot
  • Add the ricotta sauce, the cooking water, and stir well
  • Serve with a drizzle of olive oil,  freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and lemon wedges (optional)
  • Enjoy… Buon appetito! 

Lemon ricotta pasta with spinach and lemon wedges on a white background.

Recipe notes & tips

If you fancy fresh and creamy spaghetti ready in no time, inexpensive, and kids approved, this recipe is for you!

Plus, if you go for whole grain pasta you’ll get more natural fiber and micronutrients than white pasta. Whole-grain is the healthier option also when it comes to a bowl of spaghetti, and makes you feel fuller longer which is a great bonus. We love it and we consume it nearly on a regular basis.

HOW TO ADD SPINACH TO PASTA?

Blanched (quickly boiled) spinach works fine in this recipe, and cooking spinach and pasta all in one pot saves time and washing up.  However, make sure not to overcook it, which will result in the loss of nutrients, flavor, and green color.

A fork is lifting some creamy lemon ricotta pasta noodles.Recipe updated: originally posted in July 2019, I’ve tweaked the post adding more notes and new pictures.

SUBSTITUTIONS

What about adding a twist? This terrific recipe is so versatile, feel free to add more vegetables or even protein of your choice. Here are a few variations that taste delicious along with the lemon and ricotta combo.
Add them to the pot when you stir in the ricotta mixture. 

  • Sauteed or grilled vegetables: asparagus, peas, zucchini, artichokes
  • Arugula, basil, chives
  • Cherry tomatoes or chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Grilled chicken
  • Grilled or smoked salmon

MORE EASY PASTA DISHES READY IN 15 MINUTES OR LESS?

If you make this vibrant lemon ricotta pasta with spinach, leave a comment, rate it, or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.
I would love to hear from you!

Creamy lemon ricotta pasta with spinach on a white plate.
Print Recipe
4.88 from 150 votes

Lemon ricotta pasta & spinach

This light and zesty lemon ricotta pasta with spinach makes a delish weeknight meal ready in less than 15 minutes. Simple, fresh ingredients, delicious flavor, and minimal effort.
Prep Time13 minutes
Course: pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Lemon ricotta pasta
Servings: 3
Calories: 538kcal
Author: Katia

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb (8oz/220 grams) pasta (spaghetti, linguine, penne, fusilli...)
  • 1 cup (9oz/250 grams) whole-milk ricotta
  • 8 oz (230 grams) fresh baby spinach, washed
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or pressed
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Meanwhile, make the ricotta sauce.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Season with 1/4 tsp of salt and a good pinch of pepper.
  • Stir until well combined, taste and make sure you're happy with the seasoning.
  • In the last minute of the pasta's cooking time, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then and add spinach to the pot. Stir well and push the leaves down to submerge them in water.
  • After 1 minute, drain and return pasta and spinach to the same pot.
  • Add the ricotta sauce and part of the reserved cooking water. Stir well to evenly coat the pasta in the sauce, add more cooking water as needed, you want a smooth and creamy texture.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon wedges if desired (for extra freshly squeezed juice, but I leave it optional). Plus, I love adding a good pinch of red pepper flakes, you might give it a go. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Cooking water: add pasta water gradually, you might not need all of it. You don't want to water down the flavor, but only make spaghetti nice and moist. If you think the reserved water is not enough, you might add a few Tbsps of milk.
Pasta: you can use any short, large or long pasta shapes that work well to capture the creamy ricotta. I love spaghetti, but penne, fusilli, conchiglie work fine. Mini pasta shapes like orzo or even elbow macaroni don’t work well in the recipe.
NOTE: Nutritional values are estimates only.

Nutrition

Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 314mg | Potassium: 743mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 7661IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 403mg | Iron: 4mg
I love this zesty lemon ricotta pasta with spinach, it makes a delish weeknight meal ready in less than 15 minutes. Simple, fresh ingredients, delicious flavor, and minimal effort. #pastarecipes #spaghetti #easyrecipes #quickmeals

427 Comments

  1. Lisa Harrigan says:

    5 stars
    This was the perfect dinner fory husband and I. There even were some leftovers for his lunch . it was Fantastic, it had just the right amount of lemon flavor. This is in my keep file!

    1. I’m so pleased to hear your feedback, Lisa. Thanks so much for sharing! : )

  2. Barbara A. Fernandez says:

    5 stars
    Delicious. I doubled the recipe and put half of it in the freezer for a quick meal.

    1. Thanks for the great feedback, Barbara. x

  3. 5 stars
    Omg! I’ve been searching for a lemon sauce for pasta for years – yours is so easy and soooo good! Absolutely love it

    1. That’s awesome, Sherry! Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it. : )

  4. Karla Klinghoffer says:

    5 stars
    This came out great! Can’t wait to add in my chicken and pair it with a salad. Very tasty! As long as your sauce tastes good and you add the water as needed the consistency is creamy. Ty

    1. That’s awesome, Karla! I’m glad it turned out great, thanks for sharing. x

  5. Nina Wolvin says:

    5 stars
    I followed the instructions exactly and this pasta dish was delicious! my kids loved it too!

    1. That’s great to hear, thanks for sharing, Nina! : )

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