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Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Fresh Peas

Serves 4-5     adjust servings

This lemon pasta recipe is perfect for summer! It is so easy and done in 30 minutes. The cheesy sauce is made by blending ricotta with peas and lemon. Top it with Parmesan and garden fresh peas, and you have a hearty vegetarian dinner! 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 pound penne, ziti, or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for the pasta water

For the sauce

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, any kind
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peas, frozen and thawed, or use fresh
  • 15 ounce tub ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 large lemon)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (taste it)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt*
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

To assemble

  • 1 cup peas (fresh is best)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1-4 tablespoons olive oil, to drizzle
  • crushed red pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large, high sided skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat. Watch them carefully! Stir them constantly! These will burn in a hot minute and then you will be out 5 bucks worth of expensive nuts. Not that I'm speaking from experience...
  2. Once the pine nuts are toasty and golden and fragrant, remove to a plate and set aside. 
  3. Fill the high sided skillet with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt (it should taste like seawater.) Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. It should only take about 10 minutes, but check the package. Don't overcook it. Nobody likes limp noodles. 
  5. When the pasta is al dente, drain in a colander and return to the same pot. Drizzle with olive oil and stir.
  6. Meanwhile, make the ricotta pea sauce. In a food processor or blender, add garlic and a bunch of parsley*. I didn't measure this, just throw in what looks like it will be 1/3 cup. Add oregano and thyme, and pulse or blend until the parsley and garlic are finely chopped.
  7. Add 1 and 1/2 cups peas, the ricotta, the lemon zest and juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt (see note), and black pepper. Pulse until the mixture comes together but still has some texture to it, it shouldn't be completely smooth. 
  8. Add the ricotta mixture to the pasta and stir it up. Add the remaining cup of peas.
  9. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and a few drizzles of olive oil. You can add this to the pot or over each individual serving.
  10. If you are serving adults, add a few shakes of crushed red pepper, or if you are serving kids leave it out (or just add a little). 
  11. Top each serving with some toasted pine nuts. 

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