Lemon Pasta with Ricotta and Fresh Peas

Lemon Pasta with Ricotta and Fresh Peas is a celebration of spring flavors, combining the creamy texture of ricotta cheese with the bright zestiness of lemon and the sweet pop of fresh peas. This dish is an homage to simplicity and freshness, where each ingredient is chosen to complement the others, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a casual dining affair, this pasta dish is sure to delight with its light, refreshing taste and elegant presentation. Let’s embark on this culinary journey, creating a dish that’s as pleasurable to make as it is to savor.

Ingredients Insight

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted: Adds a subtle nutty flavor and a delightful crunch, enhancing the overall texture.
  • 1 pound penne, ziti, or rigatoni pasta: These pasta shapes are ideal for holding onto the creamy sauce, ensuring every bite is flavorful.
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for the pasta water: Helps flavor the pasta as it cooks.
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed: Infuses the olive oil with a mild, aromatic garlic flavor that’s not overpowering.
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, any kind: Brings a fresh, slightly peppery flavor that brightens the dish.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme: These herbs add depth and a hint of Mediterranean essence.
  • 1 & 1/2 cups peas: The sweet peas contrast beautifully with the tangy lemon and rich ricotta, adding a lovely pop of color.
  • 1 (15-oz) tub ricotta cheese: Provides a creamy base for the sauce, making the dish wonderfully rich yet light.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: The lemon zest and juice lift the dish with their vibrant, citrusy notes.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil: Adds richness and helps emulsify the sauce, ensuring it coats the pasta evenly.
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper: Season the sauce to taste, enhancing all the other flavors.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan: Adds a savory, salty element that complements the creamy ricotta.
  • 1-4 tablespoons olive oil, to drizzle: A final drizzle of olive oil before serving adds a touch of luxury and extra flavor.
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste: Introduces a spicy kick that balances the dish’s richness.

Methodology: Crafting the Dish

  1. Prepare the Pasta: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining, as it might be needed to adjust the sauce consistency.
  2. Toast the Pine Nuts: In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until golden. Keep an eye on them, as they can burn quickly. Set aside to cool.
  3. Create the Flavor Base: In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves, stirring until fragrant but not browned, to infuse the oil.
  4. Blend the Sauce Ingredients: In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh parsley, dried oregano, thyme, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix until smooth. Adjust the lemon juice and seasoning according to taste.
  5. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the garlic-infused oil. Stir in the ricotta mixture, adding a little reserved pasta water if needed to create a creamy sauce that coats the pasta evenly.
  6. Add the Peas: Stir in the peas (if using fresh, they can be blanched in the pasta water for a minute before draining), warming them through in the sauce.
  7. Final Touches: Remove from heat. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper to taste.
  8. Serve: Dish out the pasta into bowls. Offer extra grated Parmesan on the side for those who desire an extra sprinkle of cheesy goodness.


Lemon Pasta with Ricotta and Fresh Peas is a dish that sings with the flavors of spring, offering a perfect balance between creamy, zesty, and sweet elements. Its ease of preparation and delightful combination of textures and tastes make it an ideal choice for any occasion, from a quiet dinner at home to a festive gathering of friends and family. Enjoy the process of bringing these simple ingredients together to create a dish that’s sure to be remembered and savored.