This easy 20 minute ricotta pesto pasta is the best vegetarian comfort food dinner! It has a creamy, garlicky, herby sauce that is very delicious, and made with minimal ingredients.
We all have those days when a good bowl of comfort food is *the* thing we need, and my go-to is always pasta! If you are looking for a similarly quick recipe, then you may like to see my tasty vegan coriander pesto pasta. Have more time? My butternut squash pasta bake is so gooey and has all the cosy dinner vibes!
This pesto and ricotta pasta has the best combination of creamy cheese, tangy pesto and of course, the hug in a bowl of tasty pasta. And even better than that, it comes together so quickly, meaning more time to watch your favourite TV show . . . (!)
⭐ Why this recipe is so good
Family friendly dinner idea. Pasta always seems to work for kids and adults alike, so this is perfect for an evening meal for all!
Versatile. Love a more creamy cheesy flavour? Add more ricotta. Love the herby tang of pesto? Add a spoonful more!
Quick and easy. The beauty of this pasta dish is just how simple it is. It comes together so quickly, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.
All the ingredients and their quantities are set out in the recipe card below.
- Pasta - I use fresine in this recipe, but you can easily swap out for something like pappardelle, fusilli or penne, or just whatever you have in the pantry!
- Ricotta - you want the fresh tub of ricotta, and I would suggest one that hasn't already been flavoured as we are adding pesto.
- Pesto - you can of course use a store-bought pesto, or homemade. There are some ideas linked below!
🥬 Pesto options
Pesto is traditionally made of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, but there are so many variations now, which means it can usually cater to most dietary requirements. Some ideas:
Fun herb choice! My lemon balm pesto has the fresh citrusy aroma and minty taste of this herb rather than basil and is so tasty! And my Thai basil pesto has a flavourful aniseed taste that is so good.
🔪 Step by step instructions
Making this ricotta pesto pasta couldn't be easier, and it will be on your plate in just 20 minutes! All simple steps:
Steps 1 & 2
Cook the pasta. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water according to packet instructions (image 1). Then reserve a cup of your pasta water.
Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside while you make the sauce (image 2).
Recipe tip: don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water! It's so easy to forget, but it's a vital part of the ricotta pesto sauce.
Make the sauce. Spoon the ricotta cheese and pesto into your pot, and add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water (image 3). Stir to combine, adding more pasta water to thin as required.
Love a lot of sauce on your pasta? Simple add a little more of the cheese or pesto.
Coat the pasta. Use tongs to transfer the pasta back to the pot and toss to coat in the sauce (image 4). If required, you can warm through for a few minutes.
Plate up the pasta, and season with salt and black pepper to preference. A few basil leaves are lovely as a garnish.
💭 Recipe tips and notes
- Reserve some of the pasta water. The starchy water helps to thicken the sauce as well as helping to bind it. Hot water doesn't have quite the same effect.
- Add the pasta water slowly, a tablespoon or two at a time so you don't thin the sauce too much accidentally.
- Adjust the cheese and pesto ratio. This is a very adaptable recipe, so you can change up the quantities of cheese and pesto to your preference.
- Gluten free pasta can be used as an alternative, if required.
📋 Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use a store-bought pesto if that works for you, or there are variations of pesto linked above that are suitable for dairy free and nut free requirements, and all are low histamine too.
No, pine nuts are actually a seed despite the name! If you have a nut or seed allergy though, I would tread with caution and consult a dietician before use.
Any type of pasta should work well as the sauce is nice and creamy so will 'stick' to all kinds. Penne, fusilli or even spaghetti are good options!
🍽 How to serve
I love to serve pasta with a fresh green salad, or some cooked vegetables such as broccoli or zucchini.
Quick and easy salads that have some fruit or fragrant vegetables also pair well with this pasta, including my apple radish salad and tahini kale salad, and I find kids (and adults too!) love my mango slaw.
🥣 More delicious pasta recipes
I'm always in the kitchen, so come join me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to be the first to hear of new recipes! And I love to hear from you, so please do leave a comment or star rating if you have tried the recipe!
Ricotta Pesto Pasta
- 4 oz pasta
- 2 tablespoon ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoon pesto
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper
- basil leaves to garnish
- Cook your pasta according to packet instructions, so that is al dente. Make sure to reserve a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta in a colander.4 oz pasta
- Combine the pesto and ricotta in your pot, along with 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Stir to a cream sauce, adding more of the pasta water as needed. You can of course also spoon in more of either the pesto or cheese if you like more sauce.2 tablespoon ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoon pesto
- Add the pasta back into the pot and stir well so it is coated in the sauce.
- Use tongs to transfer the pasta to your serving bowl, and season with salt and black pepper. Add a few fresh basil leaves to garnish, then serve immediately.pinch salt, basil leaves, pinch black pepper
- Make sure to reserve the pasta water! It's a key part of making the sauce, and for it to go all creamy and delicious.
- Adjust the ratio of cheese and pesto to taste preference, and add a spoonful (or more!) if you like more sauce.
- Try out different pesto recipes for the dish! If you are nut free then my pumpkin seed pesto is so tasty!
- Use an alternative gluten free pasta if required.
- Please note that nutritional information is offered as a courtesy. It is auto-generated and should be understood to be an estimate not a guarantee.
- wheat (pasta), scores 1.
- pesto will depend upon ingredients used.