Twenty minute pasta meals are great for so many reasons…1. They are quick 2. They are easy to prep 3.They are delicious, and 4. They are very budget friendly. This Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach is no exception!
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Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach in a white bowl with gold serving utencils


Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach:

This simple vegetarian recipe can be a side dish or a main course. It’s made with a thick pasta noodle called rigatoni and the sauce is made with whole fat ricotta, milk, spinach, lemon juice and zest, garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes. I like to top with pistachios, pine nuts or chopped walnuts for a little crunch.

A white bowl filled with Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach with a green and white dish towel in the background

Keep it Vegetarian or Add Rotisserie Chicken:

Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach is terrific served as a vegetarian main course, but I also love it with shredded rotisserie chicken added. It’s also a fabulous side dish served with roast chicken or steak. 


This recipe calls for a a microplane to zest my citrus  and grate parmesan super finely. A hand held juicer is handy for juicing the lemon but you can also squeeze by hand.


A woman's hands grating parmesan cheese


If you live without gluten you don’t have to miss out on exceptional pasta! Jovial Foods makes the best gluten free pasta around. I am lucky enough to live by a store that carries it, but if you aren’t you can order it here!


A large bowl of Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach garnished with pistachios

The Recipe: Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach

What you need: a microplane to zest my citrus and a hand held juicer 

Creamy Lemon Rigatoni with Spinach
Prep Time
8 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
20 mins

An easy vegetarian main course or side dish to any protein. You can also add shredded rotisserie chicken if desired.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy rigatoni, easy pasta recipe, Vegetarian pasta
Servings: 4 servings
  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta (half a 16oz box) cooked to package instructions
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup milk (you may need less)
  • zest from one large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach
  • sea salt or kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup Chopped roasted salted pistachios, walnuts or oine nuts
  1. Place salted water in a large pot on high heat. Cook pasta to package directions. While waiting for water to boil prep ingredients.

  2. Measure out ricotta and milk and set aside, use a microplane to zest lemon, scraping the skin of the lemon until the white is exposed and then moving to a new area. Juice the lemon, grate Parmesan, set aside.

  3. When pasta is cooked al dente (you want the pasta firm, not overcooked), strain (do not rinse). In same pot, add ricotta and half the milk, heat on medium heat while stirring with a whisk. Add lemon zest, juice and garlic. Stir. Add parmesan, mix well. If you feel you need to thin out the sauce, add more milk until the sauce is the consistency you prefer. When sauce is warm add pasta and spinach, mix well, sprinkle generously with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if you like heat.)

  4. Pour into a bowl, top with nuts and more red pepper flakes if desired. Serve.


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