Lemony Ricotta Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Burst Tomatoes

published Apr 28, 2021
Lemony Ricotta Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Burst Tomatoes

This vibrant pasta dish is packed with bursting cherry tomatoes and tender asparagus, and tossed in a bright, lemony ricotta sauce.

Serves4

Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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ultimate spring pasta in a bowl on a table with other dishes near it
Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Sandwiched between the creamy casseroles of winter and the chilled pasta salads of summer, springtime often gets overlooked when it comes to pasta. But in my opinion, spring is actually the perfect time for everyone’s favorite carb: The plethora of in-season veggies practically do the work for you, helping you create abundant, colorful dinners that taste as good as they look.

And this lemony ricotta pasta is a great way to get started. Each bite is equal parts noodles and veg — tender asparagus, bursting cherry tomatoes, peppery arugula, and lots of lemon and basil to keep it tasting light. If you think of tomatoes as a summer thing, hear me out: Roasted cherry tomatoes taste great year-round, and their juiciness is essential to this pasta’s fresh, bright sauce that’s absolutely perfect for spring.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Ricotta + Lemon + Herbs = The Ultimate Spring Pasta Sauce

It can be hard to find a middle ground between a decadent Alfredo and a simple drizzle of olive oil, but this fresh, herby sauce is exactly that — and it’s exactly what every spring pasta needs.

As the asparagus and tomatoes roast and the pasta boils, you’ll mix together creamy ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parm, lemon zest and juice, chopped fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper. When tossed with the steaming al dente noodles, juicy tomatoes, and a splash of pasta cooking water, the herby ricotta transforms into a silky sauce that’s equal parts cozy and bright — and 100 percent irresistible.

To serve, top each serving with more fresh basil and a final dollop of ricotta, which adds a cool creaminess, plus an extra boost of protein. Then dig in and don’t worry about sides: This pretty pasta is hearty enough as is.

Whether you eat plant-based full-time or want to go meat-free once a week, Tonight We Veg will bring you the feel-good vegetarian meals you crave. Twice a month, in addition to our existing lineup of great veggie recipes, we’ll share easy weeknight recipes that prove how diverse produce-forward food can be, each packed with smart tips we’ve picked up over the years. Cook along with us, and share your creations using #tonightweveg.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Lemony Ricotta Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Burst Tomatoes

This vibrant pasta dish is packed with bursting cherry tomatoes and tender asparagus, and tossed in a bright, lemony ricotta sauce.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pints

    cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups)

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for cooking the pasta

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    medium asparagus (about 1/2-inch thick)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 4 ounces

    whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 12 ounces

    dried bucatini or other long pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine

  • 3 ounces

    baby arugula (about 3 packed cups)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Place 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to one half of a rimmed baking sheet and arrange into a single layer. Reserve the bowl.

  3. Snap off the woody ends of 1 pound asparagus and discard. Cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces on a slight diagonal. Grate or finely chop 2 cloves garlic. Place the asparagus, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in the reserved bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to the other half of the baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Reserve the bowl.

  4. Roast until the tomatoes have burst but aren’t completely falling apart and the asparagus is crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Make the herbed ricotta.

  5. Add 4 ounces ricotta cheese to the now-empty bowl. Prep the following and add to the bowl: Grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese if needed (about 1/2 cup). Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Juice the lemon until you have 2 tablespoons. Coarsely chop fresh basil leaves until you have 1/2 firmly-packed cup.

  6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and several grinds black pepper, and stir to combine.

  7. Add 12 ounces bucatini to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain.

  8. Return the drained pasta to the pot. Add the herbed ricotta, roasted veggies and their juices, 3 ounces baby arugula, and half of the reserved pasta water. Toss over low heat until all the noodles are coated and the arugula is just wilted, adding more of the reserved pasta water if needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  9. Divide into bowls and top each one with more plain ricotta, basil, and freshly-ground black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.