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Creamy Ricotta Pasta Sauce

Rated as 2.67 out of 5 Stars

"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."
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30 m servings 297
Original recipe yields 4 servings (4 small portions)


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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Per Serving: 297 calories; 9.4 42.4 11.4 51 617 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 5
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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!

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 ...

perhaps I did something wrong? the ricotta just cooked into microscopic curds, no creaminess.... :(

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 di...

I really wanted to like this recipe, I love ricotta, and even made fresh homemade ricotta for this recipe. But I found the entire recipe a bit bland, and tasted way too much like lemon