This lemon and ricotta pasta with capers is a bright and flavorful dish that comes together in 20 minutes!
Why this recipe works
Who doesn't love a 20 minute pasta dinner? The briny caper and lemon sauce married with the creamy ricotta create a sensational sauce that requires a dose of seconds!
With only a few ingredients: lemon, capers, olive oil, ricotta, and your favorite spaghetti, bucatini, linguini, or tagliatelle variety you are on your way to a fabulous lunch or dinner go-to meal!
- Pasta of choice (see suggestions below)
- Ricotta cheese
- Lemon juice and zest
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Reserved pasta water to bind sauce
Italian cooking is about simple, fresh, and flavorful ingredients that come marry together effortlessly. I love a super simple pasta recipe, especially when it's been a long day, I'm hungry, tired and just need to eat.
Instructions with video
Why I Love this Recipe
Why do these 3 ingreients: LEMON, RICOTTA, AND CAPERS work so well together? Capers have a flavor described as lemony, olivey, and salty by adding a little fresh lemon flavor this highlights and balances the taste of the capers even more.
Since these two flavors can seem a little too much of the same the added ricotta balances out the flavors with a smooth and creamy touch.
It is the simple combination of tart, lemony, olivey, and creamy that make this simple dish sing a happy dance in your mouth!
I love long pasta for this recipe so you can swirl and twirl as you get lots of sauce around each strand. Here are some varieties:
Spaghetti is long, thin pasta. ... The Italian word spago means string, and spaghetti is the plural of spago — a description of what spaghetti looks like. Spaghetti are a hard wheat dried pasta.
Bucatini, also known as perciatelli, is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre. The name comes from Italian: buco, meaning "hole", while bucato means "pierced".
Linguini are similar to spaghetti only they are flat instead of round. The Italian word linguine means literally "little tongues".
Tagliatelle from the Italian word tagliare, meaning "to cut") are a traditional type of pasta from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy. Tagliatelle is a fresh egg pasta and more yellow in color than traditional dried pasta.
Fettuccine literally means 'little ribbons' in Italian. It is a type of pasta popular in Roman and Tuscan cuisine. They are long, flat ribbons wider than linguine but thinner than tagliatelle.
To read more about what pasta shapes go with what sauce and why should you think about the quality of pasta you purchase. READ THIS POST.
What Exactly is Ricotta Cheese?
So, ricotta actually translates to recooked in Italian, and ricotta is what’s called a "whey cheese."
When you make cheese, you separate milk into two distinct things. You have the solids, called curds, which will be separated out and pressed to form cheese. And you have the liquid that is left behind, called whey.
Most cheeses that we know and love are made from the curds but, traditionally at least, ricotta is made from the tiiiiiny bit of curd left behind in the whey.
Cheesemakers make whatever cheese they want to make with the curds, and then repurpose the leftover whey to create ricotta (among other whey cheeses).
To do this, the whey is heated—usually after a small addition of whole milk and some form of vinegar or citrus juice—and the remaining curds start to coagulate.
The curds will become larger and more solid and, eventually, the pot will be emptied into a portion of cheesecloth and strained.
Once the cheese cloth is emptied of any remaining whey, you’ll be looking at a bunch of fluffy, white ricotta.
How Ricotta Cheese is Typically Made in the United States
This is how ricotta is traditionally made; it's a way to put all that leftover whey to good use. But these days, at least in the States, we tend to make ricotta from whole milk instead of whey.
In this case, the process is the same as making any other cheese—you heat the milk, coagulate it in some way, and then strain the curds from the whey to form a soft, fresh, spreadable cheese product.
What is the Best Kind of Ricotta to use for Pasta Recipes?
I recommend buying a good quality ricotta since it is the main ingredient for this recipe.
I stay away from low fat ricotta products as they contain added stabilizers to make them thicker.
The low-fat varieties will not yield to a smooth and creamy sauce.
TOP TIPS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE
- Drain any excess liquid from the ricotta before starting (I do this by pressing placing the ricotta in a bowl and pressing the top with a clean paper towel, then turning the ricotta and doing this again until it is fairly dry).
- It's always a good idea to reserve more pasta water than you'll probably need (just in case). I reserve ½ cup but you may not need all of it depending on the consistency of the ricotta.
- This pasta sauce is best served immediately. It will thicken when cooled.
- This recipe won't freeze well but it's so quick and easy to make you will either eat it all, or make it again soon because it is so easy.
Why you should Save Your Pasta Water
If you want to cook pasta like an Italian- SAVE YOUR PASTA WATER. Here is why:
Using a little bit of pasta water is the key to making smooth, restaurant-level sauces.
Made with Amore, Elena
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This easy lemon ricotta pasta with capers is fresh and light! I know you will love it as much as we do!
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- 1 (lb) (454 gr) tagliatelle (or your pasta of choice)
- 1 lb (454 gr) whole milk ricotta cheese, excess liquid removed
- 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tablespoons capers
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- Pepper to taste
- Place the ricotta in a medium bowl. Remove the liquid from the ricotta by pressing the top with a clean paper towel. turn the ricotta and do this again until it is fairly dry. Set aside.
- Slice one of the lemons to create 4-5 thick slices (save other lemon). In a large skillet add the olive oil and brown the lemons on each side, medium heat, about 4 minutes per side. Add the capers and stir to combine and cook an additional 1 minute. Take off heat and place onto a plate. Set aside. Leave drippings in the skillet for later use.
- Bring 6 quarts of water to boil and add 3 Tbs Kosher salt. Cook pasta according to 'al dente' directions.
- In a medium bowl combine the zest of the other lemon and to the bowl of ricotta cheese. Mix well until combined. Before straining the pasta add ½ cup of the hot pasta water to the ricotta. Mix well. Once the pasta is done cooking strain and add to the ricotta mixture and mix well to coat the pasta. Put the ricotta and lemon pasta back in the skillet and toss with the lemon drippings. Add the lemons and capers to the pasta and serve HOT. Season with fresh ground pepper, if desired.
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Category: Savory
- Method: Italian
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta recipe, lemon pasta, lemon and ricotta pasta, 20 minute meal, lemon and caper pasta