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
4.87 from 156 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

439 Comments

  1. Yarin M. Alencar says:

    5 stars
    Amazing! So nice & light. Easy to prepare and tasty.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback, Yarin! I’m so happy it turned out amazing : )
      Cheers x

  2. 4 stars
    Made this with Zucchini noodles and spinach. Super yummy!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Deena! I’m so glad you loved it. x

  3. 5 stars
    Hearty and comforting while the lemon and fresh spinach make it refreshingly light and different! So easy to prepare. Makes a great lunch for work. I had a handful of cooked broccoli that I needed to use so I threw it in and the end result was great.

    1. I’m so happy it was great, Donna! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your feedback.
      Cheers x

  4. 5 stars
    Cooked this 20 minutes ago, amazing! Creamy and delicious! I like a lot of flavor though so I added garlic seasoning and more salt and red pepper. Definitely going on the continue making dinner list!

  5. Lisa M Kistner says:

    4 stars
    Made this yesterday, Added cubed sautéed chicken. I wanted to up the protein content to offset the carbs. This was quite tasty- I think fresh basil or parsley would be a great addition, too.

    1. I’m so pleased you liked it, Lisa! Chicken is another great addition, I’m sure it was tasty : )
      Thanks for your feedback. x

  6. 5 stars
    This was yummy. My kids really enjoyed it. I sautéed some onions and cooked the spinach with it. I also added cherry tomatoes as suggested by another comment. She roasted her tomatoes. I ran out of time and halved the tomatoes and tossed it in with the pasta just before serving. Will definitely make again!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Sherri! I’m so pleased to hear it was yummy and the kids loved it.
      And I love cherry tomatoes too : ) Have a great day x

  7. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was delicious and easy! Roasted some cherry tomatoes in the oven and added them as well because we had them. Will definitely be making it many more times!

    1. Hi Ali : ) Roasted cherry tomatoes are delicious, I’m sure it turned out so good!
      Thanks so much for sharing your feedback and Happy 2022! x

  8. 5 stars
    I tried this today to use up some leftover ricotta, and my kids and I loved it! And it was so easy and fast! I didn’t have spinach, so used arugula and cherry tomatoes—absolutely delicious! Will definitely make this again. Thanks for a great dinner!

    1. Brilliant! Thanks for your great feedback, I’m so pleased to hear that the kids loved it!
      Cheers and Happy 2022! x

  9. 5 stars
    Tried this tonight for my wife and we both love this dish! Definitely going to make it again but with home made pasta this time around. Thank you!

    1. Homemade pasta sounds great, Nicholas!
      I’m very happy you both loved the recipe, thank you. x

  10. 5 stars
    12/2021 Really good and very easy. Used thawed, frozen spinach (squeeze out water), mixed in with ricotta mixture.

    1. I’m so pleased! : )
      Thanks so much for sharing your feedback and… Happy holidays! x

  11. 5 stars
    I made this with locally made ricotta, the last kale from my garden, which I put in about 4 min. before pasta was ready. It was fabulously creamy and I didn’t need to add pasta water. If you’ve never had fresh December kale, you are missing what kale should be like, tender and almost sweet with no bitterness. But can’t wait to try it with mushrooms and peas.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback, Gail… you’ve got the best ingredients! : )
      I’m so happy it tasted delicious! x

  12. 5 stars
    I make this a lot first time I make it I had no spinach so I added peas which I loved and made it like that ever since friends loved it too

    1. Hi Beverly! Thanks for sharing your feedback, I’m so pleased to hear that : )

  13. 5 stars
    I prepared the spinach differently: I sauteed it in the olive oil with a crushed garlic clove. Then I stirred the ricotta mixture into the spinach, keeping it on the lowest heat, thinning it slightly with the cooking pasta water. Finally, I divided the cooked pasta between bowls and dolloped the sauce on top. Yes to the red pepper flakes, extra parmesan and lemon. I thought this was to die for and it will definitely be served in my home many times over. Thank you!

    1. That sounds delicious! Thank so much for sharing your feedback : )
      Have a great day x

  14. 3 stars
    I tried this and it was an unfortunate miss. Flavours where generally good, but as someone else mentioned above it had an uncooked quality to it. The ricotta ended up very grainy and the pasta seemed dry. I wonder if ricotta is different in various places? Anyways, I might recommend trying this but making a true cream sauce with the ricotta in it.

    1. Hi Emily! Ricotta varies a lot from brand to brand. If it looks grainy (something you can check as soon as you open the tub), the quality is not great and that affects the recipe.
      If the pasta looks dry, all you have to do is add a touch of pasta cooking water, both recipe and video explain how to adjust it. Hope it helps x

  15. 5 stars
    Hi Katia, I had some left over ricotta, Googled ‘pasta dish with ricotta’ and your site popped up. Your ‘Easy Ricotta Lemon Pasta and Spinach’ recipe was a big hit with the family. It was quick and easy to make and tastes amazing, so fresh and yummy.
    It is destined to become a family favourite. I will also be trying some of your other recipes.

    1. Hi Kerry! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, I’m so happy it turned out amazing! x

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