web analytics
Kalyn's Kitchen

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

If you have fresh basil or arugula in your garden, this quick meatless Penne Pasta  with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce is delicious! Use more greens and less pasta if you want a lower-carb version. Use Pasta Recipes to find more ideas like this one.

Click here to PIN Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce!

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

For a long time I never thought of pasta as being a summer dish, except for pasta salads.  Then a few years ago I discovered no-cook pasta sauces, where a mixture of summer vegetables and fresh herbs are combined with freshly cooked pasta for a delightful dish that’s eaten barely warm. I used my first basil pickings of the summer in this Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce that combines barely-cooked arugula and basil, pesto, ricotta cheese, parmesan, lemon zest, and olive oil.

I didn’t have that much basil yet, so I used a combination of chopped basil with a few tablespoons of basil pesto, and if you don’t have garden basil you could probably use even more pesto.  I also lightened up the dish by using part-skim ricotta cheese, which I thought gave plenty of creaminess to the finished pasta.  If you like the strong flavors of arugula and basil, I think this is a perfect summer pasta recipe, but if you’re not an arugula fan spinach would also be good.

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, adding the pasta when it’s boiling. I only had about 1 cup of chopped basil from my fledgling basil plants, so I used a couple of tablespoons of basil pesto to replace the other cup of basil the recipe called for. A generous amount of fresh lemon zest really brightened up the flavors in this pasta, but it’s probably optional if you don’t have a lemon on hand. While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Saute the chopped arugula and basil just until it’s wilted.  (Then stir in the basil pesto if you’re using that.)  If you’re not a fan of the peppery flavor of arugula, I think this would also be good with baby spinach.

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce [found on KalynsKitchen.com]
Combine the wilted arugula, basil, and pesto with the other sauce ingredients and stir together. Save 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta into a colander. Combine the pasta with the sauce ingredients, adding pasta cooking water as needed until you get a creamy consistency.  (I used the whole 1/3 cup water.)

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

Serve warm or room temperature, with additional freshly grated Parmesan if desired.

More No Cook Sauces with Fresh Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with No-Cook Sauce of Tomatoes, Arugula, Olives, and Capers from Kalyn’s Kitchen
No-Cook Pasta Sauce with Spinach, Grapefruit, and Pine Nuts from The Passionate Cook
Penne Pasta with Tomato, Olive, and Feta No-Cook Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Sun-Dried Tomato No-Cook Sauce from The Italian Dish
No-Cook Pasta Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Thyme from Kalyn’s
Raw Pasta Sauce from One Hot Stove

Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

This meatless Penne Pasta  with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce is a great recipe to make when you have fresh basil or arugula in your garden!


  • 1 box (13.25 oz.) whole wheat penne pasta (or use other pasta of your choice)
  • 8 oz. (1 cup ) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated Parmesan) plus more for serving if desired
  • 1 T + 1 T olive oil
  • zest of one lemon (probably optional, but it brightens up the flavors)
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. baby arugula, coarsely chopped (or more, for a lower-carb version of this recipe, use more greens and less pasta)
  • 2 cups chopped basil (or use 1 cup chopped basil and 2-3 tablespoons basil pesto like I did)


  1. Fill a large pot with water, salt generously, and bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add pasta, start timing,  and cook until barely al-dente.  (Check package for cooking time; I cooked the my pasta for barely ten minutes.)
  3. While pasta cooks, chop the arugula, chop the basil, and zest the lemon.  (Wash the arugula and basil and spin dry if needed.)
  4. In a bowl large enough to hold all the pasta and sauce, combine the ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, lemon zest,  and salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.  (I used a generous amount of pepper but not too much salt.)
  5. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the arugula and chopped basil and cook until they are barely wilted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in basil pesto if using.
  7. Add the wilted arugula/basil/pesto mixture to the other sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
  8. When pasta is done scoop out 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and set aside.
  9. Drain pasta into a colander placed in the sink.
  10.  Combine the hot pasta with sauce ingredients and stir gently, adding as much of the pasta cooking water as needed to make a creamy mixture.  (I used the entire 1/3 cup of pasta water.)
  11.  Serve warm or room temperature, with extra freshly grated Parmesan to add at the table if desired.


Recipe adapted slightly from a recipe by Lori Longbotham for Fine Cooking.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Using whole wheat Pasta, part-skin ricotta, and decreasing the amount of pasta makes this recipe suitable for Phase 2 or 3 of the  South Beach Diet. If you’re actively trying to lose weight I would eat a small serving, with something like The World’s Easiest Grilled Vegetables or Spicy Cabbage Salad on the side. This would be a fairly low-glycemic recipe with whole wheat pasta, but it’s obviously not suitable for low-carb diets.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, you can sign up for a free membership with Yummly and use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information. Another option is entering the recipe into this Recipe Nutrition Analyzer, which will calculate it for you.

Pinterest image of Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    36 Comments on “Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce”

  1. Pingback: Winter CSA Week #4 – Penn's Corner Farm Alliance

  2. Maggie, I think shrimp would be great in this. I would probably saute them separately and add at the end. I don't think you'd need more sauce, unless you really like a lot.

  3. I've made this several times and it is delicious! Do you think you could add shrimp for some additional protein? Would you need to make more sauce if so?

  4. Yes, I think it would still be very good with spinach, just a little milder tasting.

  5. This looks so good! Do you think spinach could be substituted for the arugula?

  6. Aubrey, hope you enjoy! I am waiting for my basil to really start producing, but I'm enjoying the basil I've had so far.

  7. Oh yum, I'm on such a basil kick lately so this sounds delicious! I need to try that dreamfield pasta, I've heard good things about it.

  8. Georgia, glad you liked it. And lucky you to have all that basil!

  9. I fixed this tonight, and it was absolutely delicious! I had enough basil in my garden to make the recipe without using the pesto, and we loved the fresh taste. Thanks for a great recipe, Kalyn!

  10. I think a sprinkle of nutmeg is an excellent idea!

  11. Made this for dinner last night. Kalyn it was delicious! I made half of the recipe for two of us and served it with Italian style chicken sausages! I added a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg to the ricotta mixture (a Northern Italian tradition with greens). Excellent!

  12. Aggie, I've been known to obsess about arugula myself.

    Molly, I love the idea of adding some tomato this this!

  13. This was delicious, Kalyn! The only change I made was to add some chopped fresh tomatoes (seeded) to the spinach/basil saute. I needed to use them up and they were a nice addition flavor-wise and color-wise.

    I served it as a side dish with grilled chicken and my husband raved. I plan on bringing this to a Fourth of July BBQ on Monday.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  14. You really can't beat a no cook sauce in the summer time. I have to try this out. I've been obsessing about arugula lately and I love that this is meatless with some protein from the ricotta! So fresh looking!

  15. Judy, thanks. Great to hear the site is useful for you.

  16. Kalyn, we have used soooo many recipes off your site; it is a regular 'bookmark' to go to! Thanks for all your recipes .. fantastic!!!
    We're low carbers, using Eades 'Protein Power' book for a few years; very similar I'm sure to south beach and atkins .. and have had great results not only controlling our weight but cholesterol. Your site is terrific!