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 149 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

425 Comments

  1. Making it tonight but does it reheat ok? Lots of shift workers eating at different times

    1. Hi Kelly! A quick reheat in the microwave or in a pan is fine. x

  2. Donna Cohen says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe Katia!! Great instructions and suggestions!

    1. I’m so glad you loved the recipe, Donna!
      Thanks for your lovely feedback, and have a great weekend. x

  3. I’m wondering if I could use a low fat Ricotta in this recipe?

    1. Hey Linette! I prefer full fat ricotta, but low fat works too! : )

  4. Kathleen Godwin says:

    5 stars
    I had ricotta and spinach I needed to use and found this recipe. We loved it! I did add a sliced up zucchini and some large shrimp. I like recipes like this as you can use them as a base to add your personal touches. Am adding this to my favorite pasta recipe list.

    1. You’ve made my day, Kathleen! : ) I’m so happy to hear you guys loved this pasta, thanks so much for sharing your feedback.
      Cheers x

  5. Kimberly Moore says:

    5 stars
    This was a hit at my house. I messed up and drained the pasta without saving any but I used chicken stock instead and it came out great. I really liked how the sauce was cheesy but not really heavy. Thanks for posting the recipe!

    1. You’re so welcome, Kimberly!
      I’m so happy to hear it was a hit : )
      Have a great weekend. x

    2. Can I make the sauce a day ahead?

    3. Hey! Yes, you can, but the garlic flavor might be too pungent, so I would add the garlic when it’s time to cook the pasta, not one day before. Cheers x

    4. 5 stars
      Delicious! It was easy, light, flavorful, and pretty. I garnished with a little diced fresh tomato.

    5. That sounds great, Cynthia! Thanks so much for your feedback. : )
      Best x

  6. 5 stars
    Bought Ricotta cheese when I saw your recipe, couldn’t get spinach so used green beans.
    Excellent.
    Tomorrow- smoked salmon maybe
    Thank you for inspiration

    1. That sounds delicious! : )
      Thanks again for your feedback. x

  7. Don’t have ricotta I’m going to try cream cheese hope it works!

    1. Good luck Linda, hope it turns out nice! : )

    2. Leslie Berg says:

      Make ricotta! I just started doing it and I e made it 3 times already lol. It’s so easy and way better than store bought . Quick and super easy to do. Milk and lemon juice. That’s it. And heat 🙂

    3. Brilliant, Leslie! I used to make homemade ricotta too, glad you made your fresh delicious ricotta (for this recipe, I guess : ).
      Cheers x

    4. Jackie McAllister says:

      5 stars
      Delicious and easy meal. I love the combination of lemon and ricotta cheese. Will definitely make it again.

    5. I’m so glad to hear you loved it! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Jackie! x

  8. Stephanie Zuniga says:

    5 stars
    Perfect for Meatless Monday or a frugal meal. It’s practically gourmet w a nice glass of white wine.

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! : ) I’m so glad you loved this recipe.
      Have a great weekend. x

  9. 5 stars
    Delish!!! Made the recipe exactly as written and loved it. Quick, easy and absolutely yummy. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thank you for trying one of my recipes, Janet! I’m so happy you loved it : )

  10. 5 stars
    I made this for my 90 year old Italian mother. She loves ricotta as it reminds her of her childhood eating it fresh. So I made some fresh ricotta for her to use in the recipe. Fresh ricotta is like eating ice cream! It’s delicious and easy to make. Just a little time consuming. Anyway, she loved it! Thank you for the recipe!

    1. You’re so welcome… and I’m so pleased to hear your 90 year old mother loved it!
      Thanks for your lovely feedback. x

  11. 5 stars
    Loved how fast and easy this was! Never knew ricotta and Parmesan could be so creamy. A great way to use leftover cheese from lasagna. I tried a bit of garlic in butter as well, and added it to the sauce. I also added chicken, topped it with cut cherry tomatoes, and sprinkled a bit of red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. This recipe was good 🙂 thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Jamie! I’m very happy to hear that : )

    2. 5 stars
      Made it first time today, it’s excellent.
      I did add some fresh basil and a good lump of butter and used multi color fuselli – we loved it.

    3. Brilliant! I’m very happy to hear you loved it : )
      Many thanks for sharing your feedback, Ronnie. x

    4. 5 stars
      I’ve made this recipe a few times and I absolutely love it but for some reason I feel like the sauce is not the right consistency. My Ricotta is still more mealy for lack of a better word and not creamy at all. Any helpful tips?

    5. Thanks for your comment, Laura… I’m so pleased you loved it!
      If the texture of your ricotta looks grainy (it depends on the brand, but sadly that happens pretty often) you can blend it in a food processor or whisk it by hand using a touch of milk.
      That hat should help a little bit. Cheers : )

  12. 5 stars
    I have never made a sauce with lemon before. Made it exactly as recipe is written and was blown away by the flavor! Absolutely delicious and so easy!!
    I live alone, so I wondered if this would freeze well? Either way, it’s a keeper!

    1. Hi Joan, I’m so pleased to hear you loved the recipe, thanks so much for your feedback!
      This pasta sauce doesn’t freeze well, but if you need to use up ricotta leftovers, on the website I have several recipes that use ricotta.
      Have a great day x

  13. Cheryl Young says:

    5 stars
    this recipe is delish!! we made it a second time with asparagus. so easy yet rich and satisfying.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Cheryl! I love asparagus, and I’m so glad it turned out delicious. : )
      Cheers x

  14. Sounds good, but I’m allergic to lemon. I’ve never done anything with it so I’m not sure about consistency. Do you think white wine would be a good substitute?

    1. Hi Marcia, a touch of white wine might work, but I’ve never tried it in this recipe therefore I’m not entirely sure.
      Alternatively, just skip the lemon, I think that a ricotta sauce with parmesan, garlic (and maybe a little of grated nutmeg if you like) will work with your pasta with spinach.
      Have a nice week. x

  15. 4 stars
    Made this tonight- exactly as you have it described. It was bright, fresh, comforting, and just tasted wonderful! My family loved it. I’ll be sure to make this again and maybe add chicken, as you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. You’re very welcome, Nikki! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback, so glad the whole family loved it.
      Cheers x

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