Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

DinnerQuick and EasyVegetarianPasta and Noodles

Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta! Mix up your pasta night routine with this recipe! Comes together quickly with just a few ingredients.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

When you’re bored of your standby quick-and-easy dinners and are looking for something new to shake up your pasta routine, try this lemony spaghetti dish.

Creamy ricotta, lemon zest, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh peas will raise the bar on dinner!

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Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

Spring onions are simply onions that are pulled in the spring to thin out onion beds. Don’t confuse sweet spring onions with scallions or “green onions” – true spring onions are sweeter and more tender than either.

Look for spring onions at farmers markets this time of year. They’ll look like large scallions with thick stalks and bulbs that are two to three inches across. The tough outer leaves should be removed before cooking, but don’t throw them out. Tuck them into the freezer for stock.

Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

This recipe can be accomplished quickly if you get comfortable with a little multi-tasking during your dinner prep.

First, take the time to prep the ingredients before you start cooking: grate the lemon zest, squeeze the juice, slice the onions, chop the parsley, measure the peas and stock, and set the dry pasta next to the stove. Now you’re ready to roll.

Next, while you’re waiting for the water to boil, stir the ricotta with a hefty dose of lemon and toast the breadcrumbs — three steps all accomplished at once! Throw the spaghetti into the boiling water, and while it is cooking, sauté the onions and add the peas, and stock.

When your spaghetti is done, do like the Italians do and mix the spaghetti in with the sauce of onions and peas directly in the skillet. Transfer to bowls, top with the ricotta, breadcrumbs and parsley, and you’re done.

At the table, each person gets to mix the ingredients together in his or her bowl. Don’t expect to hear too much conversation as the first few bites go down!

Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

If you can't find true spring onions, it's fine to substitute 4 to 5 scallions or green onions instead. Use both the white and green parts.

This is a very spaghetti-focused recipe, meant to satisfy a real pasta craving. You can reduce the amount of pasta to 1/2 pound (or increase the amount of spring onions and peas) if you prefer a greater proportion of vegetables in your serving.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup good quality fresh ricotta
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 pound dry spaghetti
  • 1 large or 3 small spring onion bulbs, tough outer layers removed and the rest halved and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1 Begin heating the water for the pasta: Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil while you proceed with the recipe.

 2 Toast the Panko breadcrumbs: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the Panko, and stir constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.

3 Make the lemon ricotta: In another small bowl, stir the ricotta, 1 heaping tablespoon of the lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice together (save the rest). Add salt and pepper to taste.

4 Cook the spaghetti: Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and set your timer for 2 minutes less than the recommended time (this is so you can be assured that you are cooking the pasta al dente).

Cook the spaghetti uncovered in vigorously boiling water. When done, it should be cooked, but still firm in the middle. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce, and drain in a colander.

5 Cook the spring onions and peas: While the pasta cooks, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in the same large skillet used to toast the breadcrumbs. Add the spring onions, and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoons lemon zest, the chicken stock and the peas. Cook, stirring often for 1 to 2 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

6 Combine the spaghetti with the peas: Reduce the heat to low. With tongs, transfer the cooked spaghetti and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet. Toss until hot, adding more pasta water if necessary until the pasta is coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

7 Serve the pasta: Divide the spaghetti among four pasta bowls. Dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta over the pasta, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and parsley.

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Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

More from Sally

13 Comments / Reviews

No ImageLemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Becca

    I think I’m just not big on Ricotta, so bland and almost sweet? The lemon was overpowering and the lemon ricotta tasted like a lemon cheesecake. Would have been better with just a little lemon in pea mixture and maybe burrata rather than ricotta – not lemon added to cheese.


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  2. Kim

    This recipe was fantastic. I just made it for my husband and kids who are all super picky eaters and they all loved it. I thought it was light and fresh. I used a protein pasta, but this was delicious. Extremely easy to make for cooks of all skill level.


  3. Ellen

    So easy! There is barely any prep. I bought fresh cavatelli which only takes 2-3 minutes and put fresh peas right in pot to cook with pasta. I also added some grated romano cheese to toasted bread crumbs. I used fresh chives and added them to ricotta, lemon mix. I didn’t have any chicken broth so just added the pasta water and a little extra olive oil. I just couldn’t believe how tasty this was! Thank you!


  4. Sandi

    I really enjoyed this recipe! It is a rainy day so I enjoyed the prep work that it entailed. I actually made fresh Ricotta the day before and it turned out very good, my first time! I prepped things during the day and had a delishous pasta dish by dinner time. It’s a keeper for me on one of those days!


  5. dee

    This is a fantastic recipe! I didn’t have spring onions, and just substituted sweet onions + chives. It hits all the good points, great flavors, textures. The toasted panko really makes the difference. Thanks so much Sally!

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