Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Spinach


Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Spinach is a light and refreshing dish that perfectly balances the creaminess of ricotta cheese with the zesty brightness of lemon. This dish is quick and easy to prepare, making it an ideal choice for a weeknight dinner or a casual lunch. The addition of fresh spinach not only enhances the flavor but also adds a nutritious element to the meal. In this article, we will explore the ingredients, detailed preparation steps, cooking notes, serving suggestions, tips, nutritional information, and frequently asked questions for this delightful pasta recipe.


  • 1/2 lb (8oz/220 grams) pasta (spaghetti, linguine, penne, fusilli, etc.)
  • 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 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or pressed
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


Step 1: Cook the Pasta
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.

Step 2: Prepare the Ricotta Sauce
While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of pepper. Stir until well combined.

Step 3: Add Spinach to the Pasta
In the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then add the spinach to the pot. Stir well and push the leaves down to submerge them in the water.

Step 4: Combine Pasta, Spinach, and Sauce
After 1 minute, drain the pasta and spinach, then return them 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, adding more cooking water as needed for a smooth and creamy texture.

Step 5: Serve
Serve the pasta immediately, garnished with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and lemon wedges if desired. For an extra kick, consider adding a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Cooking Note

For a richer flavor, use freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. The lemon zest and juice should come from an unwaxed lemon to avoid any bitterness from the peel.

Serving Suggestions

Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Spinach pairs beautifully with:

  • A crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette.
  • Garlic bread or a crusty baguette.
  • A side of roasted vegetables such as cherry tomatoes or asparagus.
  • A glass of chilled white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, to complement the citrus notes of the dish.


  • Use whole-milk ricotta for a creamier sauce. Low-fat ricotta can be used but may result in a less rich texture.
  • Make sure to reserve the pasta cooking water as it helps to emulsify the sauce, making it smooth and creamy.
  • To add protein, consider tossing in grilled chicken or shrimp.
  • If you prefer a stronger lemon flavor, increase the amount of lemon zest and juice.

Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cooking Time:

15 minutes

Total Time:

25 minutes

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 400 per serving
  • Protein: 18g per serving
  • Sodium: 600mg per serving


Q1: Can I use other types of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer, such as fettuccine, rigatoni, or farfalle. Just adjust the cooking time according to the package instructions.

Q2: Is there a substitute for ricotta cheese?
Yes, you can use cottage cheese or a mixture of cream cheese and milk as a substitute. However, the flavor and texture will be slightly different.

Q3: Can I make this dish ahead of time?
While it is best enjoyed fresh, you can make the ricotta sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Cook the pasta and spinach just before serving and combine with the pre-made sauce.

Q4: How can I make this dish vegan?
To make this dish vegan, use vegan ricotta cheese, nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese, and a plant-based milk. Ensure that the pasta you choose is also vegan.

Q5: Can I add other vegetables to this dish?
Absolutely! Vegetables like cherry tomatoes, zucchini, or peas would be great additions. Sauté them with the garlic before combining with the ricotta mixture.

Q6: What if I don’t have fresh spinach?
If you don’t have fresh spinach, you can use frozen spinach. Thaw it completely and squeeze out any excess water before adding it to the pasta.


Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Spinach is a delightful and easy-to-make dish that combines the creamy richness of ricotta with the bright, fresh flavor of lemon. The addition of spinach not only adds a burst of color but also boosts the nutritional value of the meal. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a casual lunch, this pasta dish is sure to become a favorite. Enjoy the simplicity and deliciousness of this recipe, and feel free to experiment with additional ingredients to suit your taste.

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