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Winter Pesto Spaghetti With Lemon Ricotta

Winter Pesto Spaghetti With Lemon Ricotta – the perfect way to get a fresh taste of summer using winter ingredients during colder months. Citrus, like lemons, add a bright freshness to a sweet and savory cream topping.

We are right in the middle of winter and spring. That time when baby greens, herbs and veggies haven’t yet started emerging from the earth; and the days are still cool enough that you want a little comfort food every once in a while. A flavorful pasta with a bit of creaminess is just the thing.

bowl of pesto spaghetti with ricotta on top

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I love making pesto in the summer when there is basil growing everywhere. My go to recipe for Classic Pesto is very straight forward. I use just basil, some pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic in just the right amounts for a fresh summer sauce. In these colder months for my Winter Pesto Spaghetti, I mix the greens up and use only a little basil for flavor. It isn’t growing in my garden right now and can get a little pricey.

A close up of pesto in a food processor

For Winter Pesto, I mix the basil with some flat-leaf parsley and baby spinach. Both have lovely, simple flavors but add and herb-y green punch that’s just right for pasta. Frozen peas, available and tasty all year, add some sweetness to the sauce since I don’t have all the lovely basil going on. Raw almonds give the sauce that great texture in place of the pine nuts and lemon juice adds brightness.

ingredients for pesto spaghetti with lemon ricotta

The ricotta cream is a home run for this dish. Oh my, it’s delicious! If you save a little to the side it’s so perfect on toasted French bread the next day.

Just two flavors, lemon zest and pepper, make this dollop of cream genius. Spoon a bit on top of each serving of pesto pasta and with every twirl of your fork the creaminess mixes in.

lemon ricotta in bowl for pesto spaghetti

If you are just using half of the pesto for dinner (little kid portions aren’t as big as the recipe yield), it keeps in a covered container for about a week. Spread it on sandwiches or serve it on top of chicken.

For more Tara Teaspoon dinners that will get you through to spring, try my Pork Chops with Grape and Walnut Quinoa, or Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Bisque, which is really tasty with some baking powder biscuits or French bread.

pesto spaghetti in a white bowl with a fork

Photography by Ty Mecham

Thanks, Tara!

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pesto spaghetti in a white bowl with a fork

Winter Pesto Spaghetti With Lemon Ricotta

A dollop of creamy ricotta tops a swirl of spaghetti that’s been tossed with rich, green pesto. Be sure to cook your pasta in generously salted water for the best flavor all around.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 6


For the Lemon Ricotta:

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Pesto Pasta:

  • 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley tough stems removed
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ½ cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles cooked and drained


  • Combine the ricotta, cream, lemon zest and pepper in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about a minute. Set aside.
  • In a food processor combine parsley, spinach, basil, peas, almonds, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Pulse until finely chopped. Drizzle in olive oil while pulsing and mix the pesto until quite smooth and combined.
  • Toss pesto with hot, drained pasta and divide between bowls. Add a dollop of Lemon Ricotta on top of each bowl and garnish with extra lemon zest and pepper.

Calories: 607kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 247mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1835IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 153mg | Iron: 2.5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Jamielyn Nye

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