This creamy lemon ricotta pasta recipe has it all. It’s light and fresh tasting, but it’s also comforting with rich, umami flavours. It’s like a lighter, more contemporary version of carbonara. It’s particularly perfect in the spring and summer, but I’d eat it any time of year. The best part? It’s on the table in just 20 minutes!
Get another quick and easy pasta up your sleeve
When I’m in the mood for pasta, I have a few go-to options up my sleeve that aren’t just tomato sauce. Although no shame in that – this 12-minute cherry tomato pasta is delicious!
This lemon ricotta pasta also makes the grade for some very good reasons:
- It’s got a creamy sauce that puts it in the category of comfort food. But said creamy sauce isn’t cream. It’s ricotta cheese! Which just happens to be one of the healthiest types of cheese 😉
- It tastes fresh and light. But also has some strong flavours from the prosciutto
- This meal is easily on the table in just 20 minutes. You might even do it in 15 if you’re the super speedy cooking type!
- It’s a meal the whole family can enjoy. You could say it’s a flashier and classier version of pasta carbonara. It’s also quite similar to a classic pasta primavera, which is a creamy lemon pasta with greens. Just call it ham and cheese pasta if it’ll help your fussy kids to eat it!
- It’s versatile. Serve it as an easy midweek meal for the family. For date night with a glass of white after the kids are in bed. Or as a simple but tasty meal for guests.
- It’s got super healthy green vegetables in it! Don’t love or don’t have broccoli? Use asparagus or another veggie instead 😉
Pasta: What kind? I really like to use farfalle or bow tie pasta for this recipe, but any pasta works. Even just plain spaghetti.
Broccoli: I find ‘baby broccoli’ or ‘tender stem broccoli’ works particular well. I throw in the broccoli stems as well. Not keen on broccoli? See the list a bit further down for more green veg ideas!
A lemon: Use both the zest and the juice for the best flavour.
Parmesan cheese: Any. I sometimes buy it ready grated to save time. Just don’t use that awful powdery stuff you find in the non-refrigerated section.
Prosciutto: This is very thin slices of Italian dry-cured ham. Kind of like smoked salmon – but it’s meat. Usually easily found in delis, or supermarket deli or fridge sections. Alternatively use some good quality cooked ham.
Ricotta cheese: I prefer to use ricotta with a tiny bit of texture rather than the types labeled ‘smooth’. Mascarpone cheese works too!
Basil: Grab a fresh bunch, preferably on the day you’re going to make this meal. It complements the other flavours perfectly.
How to make it
This is not going to be a very long section! Essentially you just boil up some pasta, then make the sauce in a few simple steps.
I find it’s best made in a big frying pan or wok style pan so that you can easily stir fry the veg.
While your pasta’s cooking:
- Chop and wash your broccoli or other greens.
- Grate some parmesan.
- Zest and squeeze a lemon.
- Rip up the prosciutto.
- Stir fry the greens.
- Add the pasta, ricotta, parmesan, lemon and prosciutto to the pan of greens. Stir.
- Loosen up with a bit of reserved pasta water.
- Serve immediately sprinkled with more cheese and basil.
Mix up the greens!
Not a fan of broccoli? You can use any quick-cooking green vegetable:
- asparagus, chopped into pieces
- courgette/zuchhini slices
- frozen peas! (just stir fry for a minute or two)
- snow peas/mange tout/snap peas
- green beans chopped into short lengths
- Go wild and add a mixture of the above!
How to serve this meal
This is one of those meals that’s best served immediately, so call everyone to the table 5 minutes before it’s ready.
I think it’s a complete balanced meal in itself, so it doesn’t need anything on the side – apart from a cool, crisp glass of white wine if you like!
Got leftovers? You can reheat them gently in a big frying pan or wok, adding a bit more hot water or milk to loosen up the sauce again. Alternatively, you can eat this cold like a pasta salad. It’s yummy that way too!
More easy peasy pasta recipes
- 15-minute creamy pesto chicken with mushrooms and parmesan (I usually serve this with tagliatelle!)
- 6-ingredient sausage pappardelle bolognese (recipe includes a stove top or pressure cooker version)
- creamy chicken and mushroom pappardelle
- quick tagliatelle in a cherry tomato, chorizo and cream sauce
- OK so this is not classic pasta, but you have to try this amazing pan fried gnocchi with cherry tomato sauce
Or take a look at all my pasta recipes.
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Lemon ricotta pasta with broccoli and prosciutto
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 7 ounces broccoli washed and chopped into pieces, including the stems (or use any greens: asparagus, snow peas/mange tout, frozen peas…)
- 1 lemon (zest of all of it, juice of half of it)
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1½ ounces prosciutto torn into pieces (this is cured Italian ham; or use good quality ordinary ham)
- 4½ ounces pasta I like bow tie (farfalle) pasta but any is fine
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Cook your pasta according to the cooking ingredients.
- Meanwhile, pan fry broccoli in a wok or large frying pan for 3 or 4 minutes until lightly browned and slightly tender. Turn off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and reserve some of the water. Add the pasta to the broccoli in the pan along with most of the ricotta, the lemon zest and juice, and most of the parmesan and basil. Stir well.
- Add a little of the cooking water you reserved to loosen up the sauce and grind in some black pepper to taste. Then heat and stir for about 30 seconds or until the pasta has warmed through again.
- Serve immediately. Top with the rest of the parmesan and basil.