I love this easy pesto ricotta pasta with zesty lemon. You can have a delicious meal ready in under 15 minutes with simple, fresh, and easy-to-find ingredients.
The pesto ricotta is a no-cook sauce, prepared while the pasta is boiling. It’s my go-to recipe when trying to impress while not putting in a lot of effort. It’s also a great way to stretch your pesto if you don’t have enough to use on its own. Just mix the ricotta, lemon zest and pesto together, then pour onto the warm noodles with some reserved pasta water. Your meal is complete.
This sauce feels like a creamy pesto sauce… without the heavy cream. Ricotta is lighter, and adding lemon zest really enhances the flavor.
- Pesto: You can use my pesto without pine nuts recipe or store bought
- Full fat ricotta
- Zest of one lemon. I use a zester like this one.
- Pasta of choice, and there isn’t a wrong one! I used this pipe rigate noodle, but shells, bowties, fusilli, orochiette, angel hair, or bucatini would also work well!
How to make this easy pesto ricotta pasta:
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. A few minutes before done, take a mug or measuring cup and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, mix together the pesto, ricotta, and lemon zest in a food processor or by using a whisk.
- Mix the pesto ricotta lemon sauce into the warm, cooked pasta. Add some of the reserved pasta water and stir vigorously until combined.
- Top with any additional lemon zest, pesto, red pepper flakes, or your addition of choice!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- One-pot pasta recipe – super easy!
- Delicious pasta, and tastes like it’s much harder to make
- Versatile in pairing – you can basically serve this with anything
- A great recipe to use if you don’t have enough pesto left over for a full meal out of it
- Everyone will compliment you!
What to serve with this easy pesto ricotta pasta:
This easy pesto ricotta pasta can absolutely be served on its own as a meal (I’ve done that plenty!). However, the following would go wonderfully with this dish:
- Salmon: I love a pesto sauce with salmon! Roasted salmon would go perfectly alongside this dish.
- Chicken: Chicken also tastes great with pesto. You can have some chicken on the side, or mix pieces into the sauce! A great way to use some leftover rotisserie pieces if you have them.
- Tofu: Cooked or raw tofu would be a wonderful addition of plant-based protein.
Additions and add-ins
- Spinach: you can add a handful of spinach leaves when the pasta has one minute left of cooking to get nicely wilted spinach leaves
- Arugula: you can add a handful of arugula after stirring the sauce into the pasta for some nice leaves in your dish
- Other vegetables: feel free to experiment! This dish would be great with broccoli, asparagus, peas, or even roasted tomatoes!
What is a classic pesto?
Classic pesto is made with basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Traditionally, pesto comes together in a mortar and pestle. I like to use a food processor because it’s faster.
Tips and tricks
Salt the pasta water! Some salt will be absorbed by the noodles while boiling and will add extra flavor.
Save about 1 cup of pasta water before draining. I use a heat-resistant mug or measuring cup to scoop some pasta water out.
If you are making your own pesto in a food processor, you can just add the ricotta and lemon zest right in at the end and blitz!
Storage and Reheating
You can store the pasta for up to five days in the refrigerator. To reheat, you can use the microwave or heat on the stovetop. If using the stovetop method, add a couple tablespoons of water to provide a bit of moisture.
Lastly, if you do make this easy pesto ricotta pasta recipe (then first of all, thank you!!), be sure to rate this recipe and leave a comment and rating below! It would also mean the world to me if you tagged me on Instagram or TikTok so I can see your creations
Easy Pesto Ricotta Pasta
- ⅔ cup fresh pesto plus more for drizzling
- 1 cup full fat ricotta
- 1 lb pasta any kind
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest (from one lemon)
- red pepper flakes optional, to season
- ½ – 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain and put the pasta back in the pot.
- Mix the pesto, ricotta, and lemon zest together in a food processor or whisk together by hand. Add the pesto ricotta lemon mixture into the pot along with the reserved pasta water and stir vigorously until fully combined and all the noodles are coated.
- Plate, and add any additional pesto, red pepper flakes, or a drizzle of good olive oil. Enjoy!
If you make this easy pesto ricotta pasta, be sure to give this recipe a rating and/or leave a comment! It means the world to hear from you. Also, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram so I can see what you’re making! I love to see your creations 🙂