This easy Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Broccoli is bursting with fresh, bright flavors … and it’s ready in minutes!
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It’s beginning to feel like winter may never end, isn’t it? So I’m doing what I always do at this time of year … anything and everything to remind me that spring is just around the corner. Ha!
Cooking is one thing that always puts me in the seasonal spirit. And right now, I’m loving light, bright flavors … basically, dishes that taste like spring.
My delicious Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Broccoli is exactly what I’ve been craving, and I know you’re going to love it, too.
This easy pasta with ricotta cheese is filled with bright, fresh flavors that scream spring. But you know what the best part is? It only takes minutes to make!
Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Broccoli
Have you ever had Ricotta Pasta? Pasta with Ricotta Sauce (or Pasta con Ricotta, if you want to get fancy) is a rustic Italian recipe that’s deceptively simple to make!
You’re going to love how the creamy ricotta sauce get in the nooks and crannies of every noodle … each bite has so much flavor! And because we’re using ricotta (rather than cream), this dish tastes rich, but it’s not too heavy.
Best of all, the Lemon Ricotta Sauce requires almost no cooking. It just needs to be warmed up enough to become smooth and creamy.
This flavorful lemon pasta recipe is fancy enough for company, yet quick enough for weeknight meals. Seriously, once your pasta is cooked, it’s time to eat … what could be better than that?
This easy pasta dish requires very few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pasta – I used rotini, but any spiral shape works (try cavatappi, fusilli, or gemelli).
- Fresh Broccoli – Not a broccoli fan? Replace it with another veggie, such as asparagus, peas, spinach, or even tomatoes.
- Ricotta – I used part-skim ricotta this time, but this pasta tastes even more luxurious made with whole milk ricotta.
- Unsalted Butter
- Fresh Lemon Zest – Reserve the juice for another use.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – Optional, but delicious.
- Salt – I prefer to use Kosher Salt.
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese – A sprinkle for serving.
Make sure to choose high quality ingredients … they will really shine in such a simple dish!
How to Make Pasta with Ricotta
So let’s talk about how to make this yummy pasta. You won’t believe how simple this dish is to make, so let me show you!
Cooking the Pasta and Broccoli
You’ll start the pasta first.
Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat until it boils, then add your pasta. You want to cook the pasta until it’s almost (but not quite) al dente.
When you have about two minutes of pasta cooking time left, add the broccoli to the pot. Continue cooking until your pasta is perfectly al dente. Reserve about 1/2 a cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli.
I love cooking broccoli this way, because it cuts down on dishes!
Preparing the Ricotta Pasta Sauce
While the pasta cooks, you’re going to make the ricotta cheese sauce. It couldn’t be easier!
Simply stir together the ricotta, butter, lemon zest, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Then, season everything to taste with salt and pepper.
Don’t worry if the butter doesn’t blend in, because you’re going to heat the sauce. And make sure your bowl is big enough to hold the pasta later.
Next, you’re going to warm the ricotta sauce until it’s smooth and creamy (like the bottom picture below). There are a few ways to do this:
- Heat the sauce in the microwave. Warm it slowly, in 30-second intervals, stirring well in between each interval. It should take about one and a half minutes total … the sauce doesn’t need to be super hot, just smooth and well-combined.
- Place the bowl of ricotta sauce over your pot of pasta water (basically, you’re treating the bowl as a pot lid). As the water heats to a boil, the sauce will warm up, too. You must use a heat-proof bowl for this method. And you’ll need a tall stock pot, because the bowl should not touch the water. Once the water boils, remove the bowl of ricotta sauce and set it aside.
- Warm the sauce gently in a large skillet (over medium-low heat), just until heated through. Use this method if you don’t have a microwave or tall pot.
Finishing the Pasta con Ricotta
When everything is ready, add the drained pasta and broccoli to the ricotta sauce. Then, toss gently until everything is well coated.
As you do this, stir in just enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin the ricotta sauce slightly. This will help the sauce coat the pasta.
If you’re using a watery ricotta, or if there’s a lot of liquid clinging to your pasta, add less of the reserved pasta water (you might not need any). If the pasta seems dry, add more.
And don’t worry if your sauce isn’t perfectly smooth! Ricotta is grainy by nature, so a little texture is to be expected.
Pasta and ricotta are both inherently a little bland. Before serving, taste your pasta. Then adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
As the sauce cool, it will thicken. So you’ll want to serve this Lemon Ricotta Pasta piping hot.
Top it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for a pop of flavor, and if you like a little kick, an extra sprinkle of pepper flakes.
Okay, who is ready to dig in? I know I am!
By the way, if you love this pasta, make sure to try my White Pizza recipe, too. It has the same delicious flavors!
If you enjoyed this easy Pasta with Ricotta, you’ll love these other quick pasta recipes, too:
- 15 Minute Tomato Basil Pasta
- Farfalle with Roasted Asparagus, Lemon, and Parmesan
- Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
- Easy One Pot Pasta
- Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera
- Instant Pot Pasta with Feta, Olives, and Basil
- Vegetable Tofu Lo Mein
Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Broccoli
- 1 pound rotini pasta
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 large heads)
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- zest from a large lemon, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente.
- When about 2 minutes of pasta cooking time remain, add broccoli to pot. Continue cooking until pasta is al dente.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and broccoli.
- While pasta is cooking, mix together ricotta, butter, garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.
- Microwave ricotta sauce for 30 seconds; stir well. Continue heating sauce at 30 second intervals, until sauce is warmed and smooth (about 1 1/2 minutes total).*
- Add drained pasta and broccoli to ricotta sauce. Mix well, adding just enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to help sauce coat pasta.
- Taste pasta and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
What is your favorite quick weeknight dinner?