Pasta with Ricotta Pea Sauce

When I think ricotta and pasta, I think lasagna…don’t we all? But here, ricotta is used as the base of the sauce rather than a stand-alone cheese element of a pasta dish. Unlike other cheese-based sauces (think: carbonara, alfredo), you’re not using any cooking skills or heat to make the sauce. That means you don’t have to watch it like a hawk. It comes together in about 30 seconds in a food processor and is then simply poured over warm pasta. I’m very into that process. Note: I followed this recipe, cutting it in half.

Start by boiling 1/2 lb. pasta. I used pipe rigate, a new shape for me that’s sort of like penne and shell pastas had a baby. The shape is perfect for sauces that have little bits of things in it like bolognese or, in this case, peas. That said, any short pasta will work here. While the pasta cooks, throw together your sauce. In a food processor, add 1 clove garlic, a large handful of fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme. Purée until the herbs and garlic are finely minced. Add 3/4 c. thawed peas (you’ll need more peas later, fyi), 8 oz ricotta (I used part skim and actually think the less viscous texture made it more sauce-like), zest of 1 lemon + 1/2 its juice, a glug or two of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the sauce is fully blended but not runny. When the pasta is al dente, drain (you may want to reserve some pasta water), return to the pot, and toss with the sauce. Add 1/2 c. peas, a handful of grated parmesan, a large handful of toasted pine nuts, and some crushed red pepper flakes. Add some pasta water if you think the sauce needs to be saucier and lightly toss over low heat before plating and serving.

I love how quickly this sauce comes together and the peas are just soooo spring-y. Also, what a great way to sneak in some extra veggies – just call me Jessica Seinfeld. And can we talk about the insanely gorgeous color of this sauce?! But she’s not all looks. This sauce tastes absolutely delicious…which is good because I had a lot leftover and that’s a-ok by me. I think it’ll be great spooned over grilled chicken or salmon, which is what I served it with last night.