Say "hello!" to spring with this creamy Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas.
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This 20-minute creamy Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas is guaranteed to spice up your spring menu. With a custardy sauce, bright lemon, chunks of crispy pancetta, and perfectly cooked green peas, this pasta is an impressive yet quick main dish!
If you're looking for an impressive restaurant-grade pasta dish you can make at home, I have you covered today with this Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas Recipe!
This recipe took me many tries (4 or 5 at my last count) but the end result is so worth it. With a luscious and custard-like sauce, bright lemon, browned pancetta, and -- of course -- tender green peas, this pasta dish is one I now daydream about.
Featuring a cooking technique that is similar to pasta carbonara, the recipe requires you to be aware of your cooking timing and to work briskly, but please don't fret. Just read through the recipe once or twice before starting, stay focused and relaxed as you cook, and -- most importantly -- enjoy the process!
After all, the more relaxed you are when you cook the more you'll enjoy the experience (the rest of life is already stressful enough) and the better your food will taste. I'm always convinced that food cooked with love and intention is the best food.
So, treat your family to this pasta dish for your next Sunday dinner, whip up a batch for a romantic Valentine's day dinner, or treat yourself to a bowl tonight just for making it through the day. A little extra love -- in any form -- is never a bad thing, huh?
Here at Mae's Menu, we have a variety of readers: those who are more experienced in the kitchen and want to zip straight through to the recipe and those who want to learn more about the dish, potential substitutions, and more.
To skip straight to the recipe, just click "Jump to Recipe" at the top left of this post. To browse the post quickly, just click the headings in the table of contents below.
Table of contents
- This pasta with peas recipe is...
- Recipe ingredients
- Ingredient substitutions:
- How to make creamy lemon ricotta pasta...
- Will the eggs cook in the sauce?
- Pro-tips to make this pasta perfectly every time!
- Can you make this recipe vegetarian?
- A note on how to make this recipe gluten-free:
- How is this recipe alike and different from pasta carbonara?
- Can you halve this recipe?
- What do you serve this pasta with?
- How long do leftovers last?
- Can you freeze recipe leftovers?
- Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Other pasta recipes you'll love:
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This pasta with peas recipe is...
- Ready in 20-minutes
- Hearty, but not heavy
- Inspired by spaghetti carbonara
- Easily made vegetarian and gluten-free!
Look for further for an impressive and delicious, but not laborious new pasta recipe this year!
- Pasta - preferably a long shape like linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini
- Pancetta - cubed is best
- Frozen green peas
- Whole milk ricotta cheese - we need the extra fat of the whole milk ricotta to give us a luscious sauce
- Large eggs
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Lemon juice & zest - or 1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
This recipe is the best as-is, except for a few substitutions, so do your best to grab all of the ingredients as directed (I promise it will be worth it!).
If you don't have or can't find pancetta, however, you can substitute the same amount of cubed guanciale sausage or ¼" sliced pieces of uncured bacon.
How to make creamy lemon ricotta pasta...
In this recipe, the key is to line up the pasta cooking time with the pancetta and peas cooking time so they're both hot when you toss them together!
- Whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and ricotta in a medium-sized mixing bowl until combined.
- Boil the pasta in heavily salted water according to package directions.
- A few minutes into the pasta cooking time: saute the pancetta and peas together over medium heat until the pancetta is cooked through and golden.
- Drain the pasta when it is al dente (tender and cooked through, but still firm to the bite).
- Add the hot drained pasta to the pancetta pan with the heat still on the pan. Toss the pasta with the peas until combined.
- Working quickly, add the ricotta sauce to the pasta and turn the heat off immediately. Toss the pasta in the sauce briskly until the sauce has thickened and is custardy.
- Serve the pasta hot!
Will the eggs cook in the sauce?
Yes, if you have hot pasta, hot pancetta and peas, and turn the heat of the pan off just before you add the ricotta sauce the eggs will cook through in the sauce. The residual heat of the pan combined with the hot pasta and pancetta grease will cook the eggs delicately, creating a custard-like consistency.
If you cook the ricotta sauce over heat the eggs will scramble and the sauce will split -- not what you're going for!
Pro-tips to make this pasta perfectly every time!
- Cook the pasta in heavily salted water - this adds flavor to the noodles.
- Cook the pasta al dente - we want it cooked through and tender but still firm to the bite. The pasta will absorb the liquid of the sauce when we toss it together so we don't want it getting mushy.
- Time your pasta and pancetta to finish at the time time - we will get the best results when the pasta and the pancetta are piping hot when we toss them together. To time them, follow the recipe directions or start cooking the pancetta 8 minutes into the pasta's cooking time.
- Work quickly when you add the sauce to the pan - time is of the essence but don't panic or rush.
- Use whole milk ricotta - skim milk ricotta lacks in flavor and mouth feel, greatly affecting the flavor of this dish.
- Zest just the lemon zest, not the white flesh - the white flesh underneath the skin is bitter. The outer skin is all we need.
- Serve the pasta immediately off the stove - this pasta is the best hot and fresh so tray it up as soon as the sauce has thickened up. So delicious!
Can you make this recipe vegetarian?
Yes, you can easily make this recipe vegetarian. Just substitute 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt for the pancetta and follow the rest of the directions as listed.
A note on how to make this recipe gluten-free:
This recipe is super simple to make gluten-free. Swap in gluten-free rice or chickpea noodles for the traditional wheat noodles and you are good to go!
How is this recipe alike and different from pasta carbonara?
This recipe is similar to pasta carbonara in its overall technique, but it differs in its actual ingredients.
The technique of tossing hot pasta, cooked sausage (in our case, pancetta), and whisked eggs and cheese are similar. For this recipe, however, I also added in ricotta and lemon zest and juice for a different flavor and texture.
Can you halve this recipe?
You most certainly can halve this recipe. In fact, if you don't think you'll eat the full 8-10 servings fresh, I recommend halving the recipe as it really is the best straight off the stovetop!
To halve this, just divide all the ingredients in half and follow the recipe as directed.
What do you serve this pasta with?
This pasta is beyond delicious on its own, but you can also serve it with the following dishes, sides, and drinks:
- Roasted or air fryer salmon
- Carved ham
- Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
- Blistered green beans
- Green salad
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
- Pinot grigio
- Sauvignon blanc
How long do leftovers last?
Leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This recipe is best hot off the stovetop, however, so I recommend enjoyed it best fresh (see my notes above on how to halve this recipe if 8-10 servings is too much for you and your family).
Can you freeze recipe leftovers?
Unfortunately, I don't recommend freezing these leftovers.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Citrus juicer
- Microplane/Lemon zester
- Medium-size mixing bowl
- Large stockpot or dutch oven
- Large skillet (preferably non-stick)
- Pasta scooper
- Heat safe spatula or silicone spatula
Other pasta recipes you'll love:
- Garlic Angel Hair Pasta
- Chicken Bolognese
- Baked Italian Sausage Casserole with Ricotta Cheese
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
- Classic Tuna Macaroni Salad
- Spaghetti with Beans & Garlicky Greens
- Mediterranean Chickpeas & Orzo Salad
- Creamy Chimichurri Steak Pasta
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Tender pasta with a creamy and silky lemon ricotta sauce, this Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas is a delicious way to celebrate spring!
The key of this recipe is to line up the pasta cooking time with the pancetta and peas cooking time so they're both hot when you toss them together! Follow the directions for the best way to time them. Doing this will ensure that eggs in the ricotta sauce cook through and get nice and custardy.
Furhtermore, turn off the heat on the pan just before you add the ricotta sauce, as not to scramble the eggs. Work quickly during this step, but don't panic! You'll get the best result when you're focused, yet relaxed.
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 16 oz. linguine, spaghetti, bucatini, or other long pasta
- 1 cup cubed pancetta
- 1 ⅓ cup frozen green peas
- Whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and ricotta until smooth in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Bring a stockpot or dutch oven full of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.
- During the last 8 minutes of the pasta's cooking time: heat a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and green peas and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the pancetta is browned and the peas are cooked through.
- Drain the pasta when it is al dente (tender and cooked through, but still firm to the bite).
- Working quickly, add the hot drained pasta to the hot pan with the peas and pancetta. Keeping the heat on, quickly toss the pasta with the peas until combined. Turn off the heat (but keep the pan on the burner) and immediately pour in the lemon ricotta mixture. Briskly toss the pasta in the sauce until the sauce has thickened, is silky, and evenly coats the pasta.
- Serve the pasta immediately with additional parmesan cheese to serve.
1. Leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but are best served fresh. Leftovers do not freeze well.
2. To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt for the pancetta.
3. To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten-free pasta for the wheat pasta.
4. Pancetta substitutes: 1 cup guanciale sausage or 1 cup ¼" pieces uncured bacon can work in place of the pancetta.
5. Remove just the lemon zest from the lemon, not the white pithy layer underneath, for the best flavor.
Serving Size1/10th of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 320Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 102mgSodium 358mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 14g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dietitians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.