Quick and Easy

Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti with Arugula

March 14, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 3
Author Notes

I find myself making this dish after a long, hard day after work. It is bright yet filling pasta dish that will get you out of the kitchen in the time it take you to boil the pasta. —melissav

Test Kitchen Notes

Definitely add a fair pinch of salt and more chile flakes when serving. I also think it needs some parmesan or lemon, but it makes a great easy weeknight dinner. —Stephanie Bourgeois

What You'll Need
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (I use whole wheat but use whatever you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (1 to 2 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta, homemade or best quality
  • 1/4 cup leftover ricotta whey or leftover pasta boiling water, plus more as needed
  • 4 cups lightly packed arugua
  1. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Add the salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the garlic and put a small sauté over low heat. Add the olive oil, the garlic, and a nice pinch of salt. Let the oil and garlic slowly heat up. You don't want the garlic to brown. You are just warming the oil and letting garlic infuse it.
  3. While the oil and garlic are doing their thing, zest the lemon and wash and dry the arugula.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve some pasta water if you don't have any ricotta whey.
  5. Once the pasta is boiling, turn the heat under the saute pan to as low as it goes and add the ricotta, lemon zest, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You just want it all to warm it up while the pasta is cooking.
  6. Once you drain the pasta, add it to the saute pan and toss well. Add 1/4 cup of whey or cooking water and the arugula and toss again to coat and wilt the arugula. If you feel it is too dry, add more whey or cooking water. Taste for salt and add the juice from 1/2 a lemon and toss once more.
  7. Serve, topping each bowl with a few sprinkles of coarse salt or fleur de sel and a few drops of lemon juice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • burning-ice
  • creamtea
  • ginampen
  • chimera
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

33 Reviews

jayaymeye February 7, 2016
So delicious and easy! You could take it in many different directions with the additions to the ricotta sauce. But so very good as-is!
burning-ice April 20, 2015
I liked it. Unfortunately, my rucola did not survive from saturday to sunday, but even without it was good. I wonder if this could not also be a summer pasta salad? Just stir together the sauce ingredients and pour them over the cooled pasta? And then add the rucola just before serving? Maybe add some roasted pine-nuts...?
smbpc June 16, 2014
Since our garden is currently swamping us with fresh arugula we found this recipe enticing and delicious. We upped the red pepper flakes and the second time we cut the ricotta in half and used more pasta water. We found the original recipe overwhelmingly creamy, but with this change the balance was much better.
Mianna April 7, 2013
So perfect for some of these dreary spring days here! Thank you...
creamtea April 5, 2013
Will be trying this next week!
ginampen September 17, 2012
Very impressive quick recipe. The biggest compliment was when my guest noted that you could distinctly taste each ingredient, but that everything melded together for an amazing tasting pasta. I made it with whole wheat spaghetti and used bit more lemon juice then called for just because I love lemon. I will be making this again!
chimera July 24, 2012
I made this from leftovers (arugula and ricotta staring back at me in the fridge) and I must say it's one of the easiest, tastiest, most satisfying pasta dishes I've had in a LONG time! My husband and I really enjoyed it - and the leftovers heated up nicely the next night. The arugula really held up in the fridge overnight - just as delicious the second night. Thanks for such an easy, fun, DELISH recipe!
elltea May 30, 2012
Delicious -- definitely a new weeknight staple! Next time I will use a slightly less bitter green to balance out the lemon zest.
njhomechef May 1, 2012
I love arugula, but sadly, the rest of my family does not. . .so I subbed in an equal amount of watercress--delicious!! Used DreamFields pasta to keep the fiber but lower the carbs, and part-skim ricotta to keep it light, and the recipe was still awesome!!!
TheWimpyVegetarian April 27, 2012
How did I miss this?? I love how this looks. I'm making it this weekend for sure. Thanks for another great recipe Melissa!
TheWimpyVegetarian April 28, 2012
I couldn't wait that long. I made it tonight. I didn't have any arugula on hand so I blanched some swiss chard, chopped it and added that in. Sooooo good!
melissav April 28, 2012
Suzanne, so glad you gave it a try and enjoyed it. Hope you are having a nice weekend.
TheWimpyVegetarian April 28, 2012
Just had leftovers, and now I realize I will need to make some more. So easy and so delicious! It's a weekend of house-hunting, so not sure it's relaxing, but it's fun. Hope you're having a nice weekend too!
PRST April 15, 2012
Made this last night with a few minor changes. Added the crushed red pepper with the garlic and heated both in the olive oil. I used two large pinches of red pepper for a little more zip and two large cloves of garlic. I also increased the arugula to 4 cups packed arugula. Finishing with fresh cracked pepper and coarse salt, along with a drizzle of lemon juice and a really good olive oil, is essential. Homemade ricotta is the icing on the cake (I used a different recipe for that...)! Yummy, easy, and oh, so fresh tasting!!!
daphne.hayer February 27, 2012
I've made this dish ten times in the last year. It is now my favorite pasta dish.
LLStone January 24, 2012
I made this tonight and subbed gnocchi for pasta and added a couple of baby portabellas in the saute - it was delicious. I love a sauce w/ lemon, and I loved the peppery addition of the arugula. The sauce was really light and the gnocchi kind of hearty - a good combo for this cold January evening. I'll make this again!
Texas E. January 5, 2012
Absolutely delicious! A nice, light start to the new year. Thanks!
Texas E. January 5, 2012
Absolutely delicious! A nice, light start to the new year. Thanks!
InspiredFlavors January 1, 2012
Melissav, I just made this for dinner and it was fabulous! Thank you! I've added it to my own blog, inspiredflavors.com with full credit to you. I appreciate the inspiration!
jenniebites November 30, 2011
made this tonight with a glass of white in hand. i was so tempted to add leftover cranberries, or almonds, or prosciutto, but i head back. so glad i did as this is beyond the best dinner.
tucsonbabe November 14, 2011
Absolutely delicious. I added Pecorino cheese for some "punch".
waterbabyandrea November 14, 2011
I just tried this for the first time, but it won't be the last. It was the perfect thing after a tough Monday.
Brussels S. November 8, 2011
Yum, this looks delicious. I'll be saving it to test out sometime soon!