Pasta with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Sauce

A perfect choice for warm weather meals, this uncooked sauce is fresh and tangy and comes together in less time than it takes to boil the water for the pasta. Made with ricotta cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, extra-virgin olive oil and a healthy dose of fresh basil, it's hearty enough to turn a serving of rotini or penne into a satisfying meatless entrée. Serve with a green salad to round out the meal.

Pasta with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Sauce

Pasta with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Rotini or penne pasta combined with a fresh sauce of ricotta cheese, lemon juice, zest, olive oil and fresh basil makes a fast, satisfying meatless dinner.


  • 12 ounces pasta (penne or rotini)
  • 1-1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1-1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating


  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Working in several batches, stack, then roll the basil leaves together and cut into thin strips (chiffonade). Set aside.
  3. Combine the ricotta cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the basil, taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
  4. Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water to the ricotta mixture, then combine it with the pasta. Add more pasta water as needed until the sauce coats the pasta nicely (4 to 6 tablespoons should be plenty). Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
  6. Plate individual servings, top with grated cheese and few grinds of black pepper if desired.