Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Recipe posted in: Flex Meals & Snacks, Lunches & Dinners, Main Courses
Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti

Imagine al dente whole grain spaghetti enrobed in a velvety blend of ricotta and parmesan, each bite bursting with the zestful spark of lemon, and rounded out with a touch of garlic and freshly cracked black pepper. This Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe elevates simple, wholesome ingredients into a symphony of flavors and textures, proving that quick weeknight meals can indeed be luxurious and flavorful.

Our Lemon Ricotta Pasta is not just about tantalizing your palate; it’s a nod to the simplicity of Italian cooking, where the quality of ingredients speaks louder than complex techniques. With a base whole grain spaghetti for that satisfying bite and a fiber boost, and a sauce that artfully combines creamy ricotta and nutty parmesan cheese, this pasta dish is a heart-healthy choice that doesn’t skimp on decadence.

The addition of lemon juice and zest infuses this dish with a refreshing brightness, balancing the richness of the cheeses, while garlic powder adds depth without overpowering. The inclusion of chopped spinach introduces a pop of color and a serving of greens, making this pasta a well-rounded meal.

But what truly sets this dish apart is its versatility. Whether you’re in need of a quick weeknight dinner, a unique dish to share at a potluck, or simply seeking to indulge in the pleasure of cooking something special for yourself, this Lemon Ricotta Pasta adapts to fit the occasion. Topped with fresh basil for a fragrant finish, each serving is a reminder of the joy found in dishes created with care and intention.

So, gather your ingredients, and let’s journey to the heart of Italy with our forks at the ready. This Lemon Ricotta Pasta isn’t just a meal; it’s an experience—one that promises simplicity, satisfaction, and the unmistakable joy of homemade Italian cooking.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta: A Light and Flavorful Meal

Indulge in the zestful embrace of Lemon Ricotta Pasta, a dish that seamlessly blends the tangy freshness of lemon with the creamy richness of ricotta cheese. Designed to serve eight, each portion is a light yet satisfying feast, delivering a mere 176 calories. For those navigating the Nutrisystem plan, this delightful recipe conveniently counts as one SmartCarb and one PowerFuel, making it an excellent choice for a balanced meal.

Nutritious Ingredients for a Healthy Pasta Dish

The foundation of this dish is whole grain spaghetti, or a pasta of your choice, known for its hearty texture and beneficial fiber content. To create the silky, aromatic sauce, you’ll need pasta water, part-skim ricotta cheese for that luxurious creaminess, and parmesan cheese for a nutty, salty undertone. The seasoning is simple yet impactful, with garlic powder and black pepper adjusted to taste, ensuring depth and warmth.

The true star of the show, however, is the juice and zest of one lemon, providing a bright burst of flavor that cuts through the richness of the cheeses. Chopped spinach is stirred in for a touch of earthiness and color, and fresh basil adds a final, fragrant garnish.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Lemon Ricotta Pasta

To bring this culinary delight to life, begin by cooking your pasta until it reaches the perfect al dente texture. Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water before draining.

As the pasta cooks, warm the mixture of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat, stirring until the sauce becomes irresistibly creamy. Incorporate some of the reserved pasta water into the ricotta mixture, adjusting as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

Then, lovingly combine the pasta and sauce, folding in the spinach until just wilted. If the sauce requires thinning, gradually add a bit more pasta water.

Enjoy the Perfect Balance of Flavor and Nutrition

Serve this Lemon Ricotta Pasta immediately, adorned with a sprinkle of basil, for a meal that promises not just to nourish but to transport you with every forkful. Whether as a centerpiece for a casual gathering or a simple, soul-satisfying dinner, this recipe is a testament to the joy of eating well without compromise.

Customizing Your Lemon Ricotta Pasta for Every Palate

One of the most delightful aspects of this Lemon Ricotta Pasta recipe is its versatility, making it a perfect canvas for customization to suit any taste or dietary preference. Whether you’re aiming to add more protein, incorporate seasonal vegetables or adjust the recipe for various dietary needs, there’s plenty of room to tweak this dish. Here are some suggestions to inspire your culinary creativity:

Adding Protein

For those looking to boost the protein content, consider adding grilled chicken slices, sautéed shrimp or cooked ground beef. Each of these options can be seasoned to complement the lemony zest of the pasta, providing a satisfying, protein-packed meal.

Seasonal Vegetables

While spinach offers a pop of color and a serving of greens, don’t hesitate to experiment with other vegetables. Grilled asparagus in the spring, roasted cherry tomatoes in the summer or baked butternut squash in the fall can turn this dish into a seasonal delight. Simply sauté your choice of veggies and fold them into the pasta alongside or in place of the spinach.

Dietary Adjustments

For a gluten-free version, opt for gluten-free pasta available in varieties like rice, quinoa or lentil. Those looking to reduce dairy can explore plant-based ricotta and parmesan alternatives, many of which offer a similar texture and flavor profile to their traditional counterparts.

Flavor Twists

Experiment with different herbs and spices to add a unique twist to your pasta. A dash of red pepper flakes can introduce a spicy kick, while a sprinkle of oregano or thyme can add a Mediterranean flair. Consider swapping the lemon zest for lime or orange zest for a different citrus note.

Cheese Varieties

While ricotta and parmesan are classic choices, don’t be afraid to explore other cheese options. A dollop of goat cheese or crumbled feta can add a tangy twist, while a sprinkle of aged gouda or sharp cheddar can bring a deeper flavor profile to the dish.

By embracing these customization options, you can transform the Lemon Ricotta Pasta into a new dish every time you make it. Explore the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for more information on counting ingredient swaps and add-ins.

Servings: 8

Calories per Serving: 176

On Nutrisystem, Count As: 1 SmartCarb and 1 PowerFuel


  • 10 oz. whole grain spaghetti (or other pasta)
  • ¹⁄₃-½ cup pasta water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, part skim
  • ¹⁄₃ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish


  1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ¹⁄₃-½ cup of pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat. Stir until creamy.
  3. Add ¹⁄₃ cup of pasta water to the ricotta mixture. Stir until well-combined.
  4. Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture and stir in the spinach. Add more pasta water to thin out as needed.
  5. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.
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