This everyday pasta with ricotta recipe is mightily moreish

STEPS 5 INGREDIENTS 8 TIME 30 MINS This pasta with ricotta dish is the meal we cook at home most often. If there are few ingredients in the fridge, little time to spare, or a lack of energy in whoever’s cooking, the conversation goes like this: “Pasta with ricotta?”, “Sold!” It’s that tasty.


This rich tummy filler is basically just short pasta with a tomato, onion and bacon (pancetta) sauce, into which you mix a little grated parmesan and stir a big blob of creamy fresh ricotta cheese. If you have some basil leaves, rip and throw some of these in too. Lovely.

(If you’re a veggie or out of pancetta, it’s no problem – this meal is equally tasty without.)

Come on then, let’s make it! As several of my wife Laura’s friends will tell you – because they’ve long since adopted this recipe as their own – this easy pasta with ricotta recipe is one you’ll immediately wish you’d learned sooner!

Serves 2

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)


200g/7oz short pasta (rigatoni/penne etc.)

100-120g/3.5oz ricotta cheese (half a small round tub)

Half a small onion (ideally red)

20g/.07oz grated parmesan cheese

50g/1.5oz pancetta (belly bacon chunks), or chopped thick bacon

x1 400g/14oz can of plumb tomatoes


Extra virgin olive oil

Optional: 5-10 leaves of fresh basil

Optional: tomato paste/puree (I recommend this – it really boosts the tomatoes’ taste)


Large deep pan/skillet (for boiling pasta)

Second deep pan or deep frying pan (for sauce) – ideally with lid


Cheese grater


Preparation: 3 mins

Cooking: 27 mins

Overall: 30 mins

STEP 1 – A quick bit of preparation first:

– Boil a full kettle and pour this water, along with two handfuls of salt, into your large pan. Leave on a medium heat hob to bring to the boil.

– Peel and finely chop the onion, and wash and tear basil leaves if you have them.

STEP 2 – Now let’s start the sauce.

– Cover the base of the frying pan with a good ‘glug’ of olive oil and heat up for a couple of minutes on a medium hob.


– Throw in the onion and pancetta/bacon, and fry gently for 5 mins, or until the onion fully softens and starts to turn golden.

Tip: If you hear loud ‘spitting’ sounds as the pan’s ingredients cook, it’s a little hot so take it off the heat for a second and turn the hob down a notch.

STEP 3 – Once the onion is golden, throw in the tin of tomatoes, add a squirt of tomato paste, and a teaspoon of salt (to bring out the tomatoes’ taste). Now…

– Cover the pan if possible, and cook on the same medium heat for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. We’re softening the tomatoes here.

– After this time, the plum toms should be softer, so now squash this with a fork to break them up.

– Leave the pan uncovered and cook for a further 8-10 minutes (use a timer), stirring regularly.

Note: This final sauce cooking stage is all about ‘thickening’ the sauce up, as the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates away.

– Check your pasta packet’s recommended cooking time then, providing your pan of water is now boiling, throw in the pasta while the sauce carries on cooking (this will cut the time until you eat this delicious dish!).

pasta_with_ricotta_tomato_sauce STEP 4 – When the excess liquid has evaporated from the sauce (see pic), it’s done, so turn the hob down to its minimum setting while the pasta finishes cooking.

When the pasta is ready (taste to check), drain this well using a colander/sieve.

STEP 5 – Turn up the sauce’s hob to medium, throw in ¾ of the parmesan and all the ricotta. Now mix it all together well (this pasta with ricotta shouldn’t be at all lumpy – a good 30 seconds of stirring should be enough). Now add in the pasta and stir until the pasta is coated in the luscious creamy sauce.

You’re done!

To serve: Put in bowls, sprinkle over the remaining parmesan, and garnish with a few basil leaves, if you have them.

And then… still hungry for more cheese? I recommend my friend Debbie’s moreish Italian cheesecake recipe.

Your thoughts? Did you enjoy this pasta with ricotta?