Say hello to spring and warmer weather with this fresh Pasta with Peas and Ricotta. Creamy ricotta in every bite and a touch of vibrant fresh lemon zest and juice make this the perfect weeknight pasta dish.
This is a fresh pasta dish with a sauce made from the creamy ricotta cheese. I used whole milk ricotta, but you could even use a lower fat version. And if you have the time and the energy, go ahead and make your own fresh ricotta cheese.
Totally irresistible from the in season fresh peas and a little crunch from the pine nuts. This makes a lovely Saturday brunch or Sunday supper.
Pasta with Ricotta and Peas tips
- Pasta cooking water: Most important part of recipe… Save some of the pasta cooking water! Be sure not to forget to save some of it. When it’s combined with the ricotta cheese and olive oil it makes the most creamy sauce and helps it all bind together. I don’t add the pan back to the heat. I feel the pan is hot enough when you drain the pasta to combine it all together.
- Ricotta: Full fat ricotta is truly the best for this ricotta, but you can use a lower fat ricotta if you prefer.
- Peas: Fresh spring peas are wonderful for this recipe, but frozen also work very well! Please do not used canned peas for this pasta, they will be too mushy and it is not the texture you’re going for with this recipe.
- Lemon: This creamy and delicate sauce has the perfect fresh touch from the lemon juice and lemon zest and is so easy to put together for you pasta lovers.
- Pine nuts: If you aren’t into pine nuts, feel free to omit them. But the crunch of the lightly toasted pine nuts really adds another delicious element to the dish.
- Olive oil: I used a nice Sicilian extra-virgin olive oil. This is one of those dishes that even a few drizzles of a very fruity and nice quality olive oil makes a difference in how the final flavor of the dish is.
It’s so nice served with a simple salad and these hazelnut and dried cherry biscotti for dessert.
We like our pasta al dente (to the tooth). You are adding the peas to the boiling water a couple minutes before the pasta is done. Make sure you cook the pasta until it is al dente. You could even add the peas 5 minutes before the pasta is done cooking. It’s better to risk to have more cooked peas than pasta. Feel free to use frozen instead of fresh peas if that’s what you find at the market.
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Some other pasta recipes to try:
Originally published on March 27, 2019 and updated on March 15, 2021.
Penne with Peas and Ricotta
- 1 pound penne pasta
- Salt for pasta water
- 2 cups fresh peas
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 lemon zest and juice (I used organic)
- Coarse or fine sea salt for sprinkling
- Ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley chopped (not the stems)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta.
- About 2 minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the pot.
- Reserve one cup pasta cooking water, then drain penne and peas.
- Add them back to the empty pot (do not put back on the heat) with 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, some olive oil (I used about 2 Tablespoons), salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the pasta to a serving bowl.
- Spoon in the ricotta cheese and give it a good stir. If pasta seems a little dry, add a bit more of the pasta cooking water you reserved. Drizzle on the reserved tablespoon of olive oil. You should have a creamy ricotta sauce. Add a little more pasta water or olive oil if needed.
- Stir in the fresh lemon zest and lemon juice. Check the salt and pepper and add more, if needed, to your taste.
- When serving in the bowls, sprinkle on the pine nuts, Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese, and parsley.