A simple marriage of ricotta cheese, egg, and a secret ingredient make for a sauce that's even creamier than those that use heavy cream, which can be a bit too rich and filling. I mean, come on, I'm trying to save room for the tiramisu. Ricotta gives this sauce a cheesy tanginess that we don't get with heavy cream. I love to top this pasta with lots of ricotta salata, a great summer cheese.

Recipe Summary

prep:
10 mins
cook:
20 mins
total:
30 mins
Servings:
4
Yield:
4 small portions
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Ingredients

4
Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Pasta:
For the Sauce Base:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook orecchiette according to package directions, reducing time by 1 minute, about 10 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Mix until a paste forms. Add 1/3 cup hot pasta water and whisk well. Repeat with another 1/3 cup pasta water.

  • Transfer pasta to a saucepan using a strainer, letting most, but not all, the water drain off. Reserve cooking water. Add the sauce mixture and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir until sauce thickens enough to coat the pasta evenly, about 2 minutes. Add more pasta water if sauce gets too thick. Stir in pesto. Taste and season as desired. Transfer pasta to a warm bowl.

Chef's Notes:

Use any shape of pasta you desire.

I added some pesto to mine this time, but that could have been some sun-dried tomato paste, or roasted chiles, or caramelized mushroom, or diced-up, leftover grilled veggies, or…you get the idea.

Nutrition Facts

297 calories; protein 11.4g; carbohydrates 42.4g; fat 9.4g; cholesterol 51.5mg; sodium 616.7mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (12)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
05/19/2018
It was a creative idea and turned out better than I thought. We had it on pasta mixed with roasted veggies and chicken sausage. My family found the texture to be offputting, but I may not have thinned it enough with the pasta water. I wasn't sure what the final consistency should be. We all loved the flavor though. I reccommend cutting down the salt. I tasted it after adding the full amount and wished I could have taken half out. I ended up using some of the lemon juice to help balance it. Read More
(3)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
05/18/2019
not that creamy but really good. Read More
(1)
13 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 6
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: 4 stars
05/19/2018
It was a creative idea and turned out better than I thought. We had it on pasta mixed with roasted veggies and chicken sausage. My family found the texture to be offputting, but I may not have thinned it enough with the pasta water. I wasn't sure what the final consistency should be. We all loved the flavor though. I reccommend cutting down the salt. I tasted it after adding the full amount and wished I could have taken half out. I ended up using some of the lemon juice to help balance it. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
05/09/2018
Surprisingly easy and enjoyed the non-cream sauce. I probably went a little crazy with the Cayenne pepper (making it a true arrabiata sauce was not my intent) but still GREAT! Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
11/30/2018
This is amazing. You need to be extra careful to whisk quickly and temper well, and don't go crazy on the heat once you've added the sauce to the pan. I've made it with pesto, romesco and curry spices and it's always great. Girlfriend loves it. Read More
(2)
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Rating: 3 stars
05/17/2019
not that creamy but really good. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
02/15/2019
Definitely will make it again I added garlic to mine. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
05/20/2019
Sooo good! Used fresh store bought prosciutto tortellini instead of dry pasta and added broccolini in the last minute of the pasta boil. This is a keeper! Read More
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Rating: 5 stars
03/23/2020
Quick and easy. I will definitely make again. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
07/18/2018
I was excited about making this. I followed the recipe exactly. Unfortunately it was very bland. No flavor. Will not make again. But love mostly all of Chef John s other recipes. This just did not cut it for us. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
09/17/2018
perhaps I did something wrong? the ricotta just cooked into microscopic curds no creaminess....:( Read More
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