Sicilian ricotta pasta 2 ways (with nutmeg or walnuts)

Sicilian ricotta pasta 2 ways (with nutmeg or walnuts)

Pasta with ricotta is one of the simplest of Italian pasta recipes.  My Sicilian hubby says it was one of his favourite dishes when he was a child. In Southern Italy, ricotta with pasta is a popular go-to recipe when  mothers don’t know what to cook or haven’t had time for shopping. Kids love it! I’m sure you and your family will love these Sicilian ricotta pasta recipes too!

Sicilian ricotta pasta

There are, of course, a number of versions of simple pasta with ricotta. But, the basics are often the same, fresh ricotta creamed with the pasta cooking water plus the addition of one or two other possible ingredients. In Sicily, they often add nutmeg (which I did) or just lots of ground black pepper. Walnuts (like in my second version) are also a popular addition, as are pistachios or almonds.

Sicilian ricotta pasta with nutmeg

Among my favourite simple ricotta pasta recipes already here on The Pasta Project are spaghetti with lemon, basil and ricotta and a divine Sicilian pasta with ricotta and pistachio pesto. These simple pasta with ricotta recipes are mostly no-cook dishes, meaning you only have to cook the pasta, not the sauce! Of course, there are many other Italian pasta with ricotta recipes that do need some cooking.

Sicilian ricotta pasta with walnuts

So what is ricotta?

Some people say ricotta isn’t really a cheese. In Italian, they often call it a ‘latticino’ which means a dairy by-product.  In short, ricotta is made from whey, the watery liquid that remains after making cow, sheep or goat cheese.  Making ricotta is actually quite simple. The whey is left to ferment for a day or two so it becomes more acidic. Then, it’s heated to almost boiling. In fact, the word ‘ricotta’ means recooked! After heating, the curds are filtered through a cloth and the result is ricotta!

ingredients for Sicilian ricotta pasta with walnuts

Ricotta in Italy.

Ricotta has been made in Italy for centuries.  The ancient Romans made it! Of course, there are different types of ricotta. There is ricotta made from cow’s milk as well as from goat, sheep and  Italian water buffalo. I also like ricotta ‘mista’ which is a mix of cow and sheep milk ricottas. Cow’s milk ricotta is more widely used here in the north of Italy. Sheep ricotta is more popular in the south.

creamed ricotta in white bowl

The ricotta I used in these Sicilian ricotta pasta recipes.

Traditionally, most simple pasta with ricotta recipes come from Southern Italy, where they prefer to use sheep ricotta. However, cow’s milk ricotta is good too, especially when it comes straight from the farm!

Fresh cheese tasting at La Bolzonella
Trying fresh cheese at La Bolzonella

I recently visited a wonderful dairy farm near Padua (Padova) called La Bolzonella. This dairy farm is rather special because they make cheese with their own milk! In fact, La Bolzonella not only has dairy cows, but they also grow the cereals and fodder for the cows in their own fields.

walnuts in food processor

I was pretty excited about eating cheese at a dairy farm where they also grow the cows’ food! And, I have to say the cheese was unbelievably good! I have actually never tried ricotta that tasted so fresh, like a glass of creamy fresh milk!! Of course, I took some home. In fact, I made these 2 wonderful Sicilian pasta with ricotta recipes with it.

ground walnuts in food processor

La Bolzonella produce a number of different cheeses, all from their own cow’s milk. Apart from ricotta, they also make mozzarella, burrata, stracciatelle, caciocavallo, scamorza, primosale and canestrato Veneto, as well as their own label Bolzonella and Cittadella cheeses. The latter is named after the medieval town of Cittadella close to where the farm is located. If you are ever in the Padova area you might want to visit to try/buy their cheese. They also have accommodation!

ground walnuts, garlic, olive oil and ricotta in white bowl

Nowadays ricotta is made in many countries and there is some very good commercial ricotta on the market.  You can make either of these Sicilian ricotta pasta recipes with sheep’s ricotta, cow’s milk ricotta or a ricotta mista (cow and sheep mixed together) .

organic whole wheat fusilli Benedetto Cavalieri

The pasta

Sicilian pasta with ricotta is made with different types of pasta. However, the most popular cuts are short pasta tubes or spaghetti.  I used organic fusilli made by a company I visited whilst in Salento, Puglia back in September.  Benedetto Cavalieri have been making pasta in Maglie, Salento since 1918. However, even before they started making pasta, the Cavalieri family were durum wheat farmers and millers.

cooked fusilli in white bowl with ricotta

The present owner Benedetto, who I met when I visited,  is the founder’s grandson. Cavalieri make their pasta with durum wheat grown in Puglia and Basilicata using a production process called ‘metodo delicato’. This method involves long kneading of the dough and slow pressing, drawing and drying at low temperatures. 

cooked fusilli mixed with ricotta in white bowl

Benedetto Cavalieri have 2 lines of pasta production. Their traditional award winning artisan pasta is available in 32 shapes. It’s a popular pasta among chefs and in high end restaurants in Puglia. In fact, we came across it a number of times in restaurants during our holiday.  Their relatively new organic whole wheat pasta is available in 6 shapes. The fusilli I used for this pasta with ricotta was from this organic range.

Sicilian pasta with ricotta and nutmeg

Organic whole wheat pasta is obviously a much healthier choice than many other types of commercial pasta. Cavalieri’s organic whole wheat pasta has a wonderful consistency and a warm wheaty taste. Of course, you can used other pasta brands and shapes but I would recommend this pasta if you can find it.

Sicilian ricotta pasta with walnuts

A very quick and easy recipe.

As I mentioned above, making simple pasta with ricotta requires no cooking, except for the pasta. I made 2 slightly different versions of Sicilian ricotta pasta, one with nutmeg and the other with chopped walnuts. For the first version, apart from the pasta, ricotta and nutmeg all you need is some grated parmigiano (parmesan) or grana.  Vegetarians will want to use a vegetarian cheese as both Parmigiano Reggiano and grana contain calf rennet. If you make the version with walnuts, you’ll also need a little garlic and olive oil.

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Sicilian ricotta pasta 2 ways

Whether you make this pasta with nutmeg or walnuts, I’m sure you’ll love these simple Sicilian ricotta pasta recipes.

If you do try these ricotta pasta recipes, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

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Sicilian pasta with ricotta 2 ways
5 from 33 votes
Sicilian ricotta pasta
Sicilian Ricotta Pasta 2 ways
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins

Pasta with ricotta is a simple and fast traditional Italian recipe made with fresh ricotta and one or two other ingredients. Here is one version with just nutmeg and another with chopped walnuts. Both ways are delicious and healthy.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, Sicilian, Southern Italian
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, fusilli, Italian recipe, organic pasta, ricotta, Sicilian food, walnuts
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g fusilli (14oz) or other short pasta. I used organic wholewheat fusilli from Benedetto Cavalieri
  • 300 g fresh ricotta (10-11oz) I used cow's ricotta.
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg grated
For ricotta with walnuts instead of nutmeg
  • 50 g walnuts (2oz) chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
  • 50 g Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) grated. Vegetarians should use vegetarian cheese
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready save a cup of the cooking water and drain.

  2. While the pasta is cooking,  mix the ricotta with some grated nutmeg and ground black pepper in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a little bit of pasta cooking water to soften the ricotta (this is best done after the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes or is cooked). Cream using a fork or handheld blender.

  3. Add the drained pasta  to the ricotta, mix everything well and serve. If the pasta is too dry, add a little more cooking water. Serve with grated parmigiano or grana if required

For ricotta and walnuts instead of nutmeg
  1. Put the walnuts, chopped garlic and olive oil in a food processor and pulse a few times til walnuts are granular but not too fine. Add this walnut mixture to fresh ricotta instead of the nutmeg in step 2.

Recipe Notes

These ricotta pasta recipes can be made with short pasta tubes or even spaghetti. I used organic whole wheat fusilli by Benedetto Cavalieri.

This recipe can be made with cow’s milk ricotta, sheep ricotta or a mix of the two. I used fresh cow’s milk ricotta from La Bolzonella dairy farm near Padova.

Before you go check out these other ricotta pasta recipes.

  1. Linguine with ricotta and mint pesto
  2. Ricotta and basil filled paccheri with tomato sauce
  3. Hazelnut pasta with ricotta and spinach
  4. Italian ricotta and mushroom lasagna

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  • Avatar
    November 6, 2019 5:21 am

    Love this Sicilian pasta recipe. I am a big fan of ricotta based recipes and your recipe looks just perfect.

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    November 5, 2019 10:31 pm

    This pasta looks delicious and thank you for sharing not one but two variations of dish.

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    November 5, 2019 10:24 pm

    Love how creamy this pasta is. Lots of great flavors added. This is something I can make for my family over and over again.

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    November 4, 2019 5:18 pm

    My family loves pasta in a white sauce. This dish looks amazing, I’m definitely be adding this to our meal plan this week.

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    November 4, 2019 4:07 pm

    What a great idea, my dad used to make a sweet version of this with macaroni pasta and add sugar so would be a sweet version. I will definitely try this. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious.

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2019 4:28 am

    Ricotta and pasta is one of my weaknesses, but I love these variations with nutmeg and walnuts — so good! Thanks so much for sharing these great recipes.

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2019 2:32 am

    What an amazingly delicious looking pasta dish! It looks creamy and dreamy! I want to dive right in!

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2019 12:38 am

    I love a creamy cheesy pasta and both these options fit the bill and sound so easy. I will definitely be trying the nutmeg version soon!

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2019 8:59 pm

    Never tried a Sicilian pasta I didn’t love and these two versions are no exception!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 12:39 am

      Thank you, Emily, we agree with you!

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2019 3:05 pm

    Yum! I tend to think of ricotta mostly in lasagna; I like this idea for using it in a simple and delicious pasta recipe!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 12:41 am

      Thank you, David! This is perfect way to use ricotta!

  • Avatar
    Heidy L. McCallum
    November 3, 2019 2:37 pm

    Oh my gosh, you know my grandmother used to make this and I really just thought it was something she tossed together when she was short on time. We loved it as children and I was so surprised to see this again as an actual recipe. I had forgotten about it over the years and it made my day to see it on your blog today. What a wonderful memory. I think I may make this for my husband soon. Thank you for bringing back a great memory.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:51 am

      Thank you so much for sharing that memory Heidy. I hope it tastes just as you remember!

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2019 2:34 pm

    LOVE pasta as an easy and yummy dinner option! This looks creamy and dreamy!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:52 am

      Yes, it’s perfect! Perfect for a quick and delicious meal!

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2019 12:42 pm

    Love that this is made with ricotta!! Adding walnuts is a perfect flavor additiong!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:53 am

      Glad you love it Tisha!

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2019 12:23 pm

    That looks deliciously comforting. I will definitely be trying that.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:54 am

      Thank you, Dani, I hope you love it!

  • Avatar
    November 2, 2019 9:10 pm

    I know that this pasta recipe would be a hit with the family for sure. The crunchy walnut recipe would make a hearty meatless meal.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:55 am

      The walnuts are an amazing addition!

  • Avatar
    Michel Bonnet
    November 2, 2019 10:08 am

    Morning Jacqueline,
    Lovely Sicilian Pasta recipes – thank you.
    Is there any reason why I cannot mix the two recipes and add walnuts to the nutmeg pasta?
    Walnut, Olive Oil and Garlic plus grated Nutmeg – what’s not to like as a mixture?
    Your opinion is valued.
    Thank you.

    • Jacqui
      November 3, 2019 5:58 pm

      Hi Michel, thank you for your comment. Of course you can add nutmeg to the walnut pasta recipe. I cooked and shared popular Southern Italian ricotta pasta recipes that I found on Italian sites. My Sicilian husband often had the one with just nutmeg as a child. He loves it! However, from a personal point of view, I don’t like nutmeg with garlic. But I know some people do use them together.

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2019 6:34 pm

    Yummy! This Sicilian ricotta looks so delicious, I don’t know what I would choose, the walnut or nutmeg?! Perhaps I will try them both!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:56 am

      Definitely try both Aleta!

  • Avatar
    Ai | Ai made it for you
    November 1, 2019 4:22 pm

    I’ve never had ricotta with pasta other than lasagna! This looks so creamy and delicious!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:56 am

      I hope you try it and love it!

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2019 8:53 am

    This recipe is everything!!! I love how simple it is, and yet it’s so special!! Amazing!!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:58 am

      Thank you, Aline! Sometimes the most simple things are the most wonderful!

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2019 1:14 pm

    I LOVE ricotta and though I can’t serve this to my taste-testers it doesn’t mean I can’t make a big batch for myself. I enjoyed your comments about ricotta. I will probably make this with nutmeg AND walnuts, mmm.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 1:59 am

      Thank you, Beth! You absolutely should make this for yourself!

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2019 11:53 am

    Oh my goodness… I must try this! Being the pasta head that I am… and with fresh nutmeg… this just screams at me 🙂

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      November 4, 2019 2:06 am

      Thank you, Simone!

  • Avatar
    Analida Braeger
    October 31, 2019 3:22 am

    I honestly have never seen a recipe like this and I have a very good friend who is Sicilian. This looks like the Italian version of a very comforting mac and cheese dish and I can’t wait to make this! Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    October 30, 2019 9:46 pm

    Both nutmeg and walnuts sound so delicious, but I do think I’d try the nutmeg one first! And I definitely need to try to make my own ricotta. Great recipe!

  • Avatar
    Veena Azmanov
    October 30, 2019 8:02 pm

    My family loves such options too. Pasta is a happy meal for sure. Love the walnut as well as the Nutmeg flavor to make it unique too.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2019 4:32 pm

    i cant wait to try this!

  • Avatar
    Nart | Cooking with Nart
    October 30, 2019 2:41 pm

    Your ricotta pasta looks so creamy. And the combination of nutmeg and walnut is interesting too!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    October 30, 2019 3:07 am

    I’m hoping I get to experience eating cheese at a dairy farm where they also grow the cows’ food one day. It sounds incredibly fresh and delicious.

  • Avatar
    Alisa Infanti
    October 30, 2019 1:31 am

    Your Ricotta Pasta looks soooo creamy and dreamy! This would make a great alternative to try instead of alfredo.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 9:50 pm

    This looks lovely-ricotta is one of my favs.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 9:27 pm

    This is so simple but still so elegant. I can’t wait to try this for a weeknight dinner!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 6:57 pm

    These dishes look great. I love ricotta cheese!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 6:57 pm

    This looks really good! I may have to try it soon (:

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 5:48 pm

    Yum yum! I can’t wait to try both of them. I wonder if you can add nutmeg and walnuts or would my tastebuds explode from all that goodness 😉

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 5:22 pm

    I love your authentic Italian pasta recipes…I think I’m going to make this with walnuts AND nutmeg, yum!!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 5:06 pm

    Yum! I love pasta with ricotta cheese! I stop by a local italian restaurant and pick it up from them. It makes all the difference!

  • Avatar
    Matt Freund
    October 29, 2019 5:02 pm

    This looks really good. I want to try it.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 4:51 pm

    I don’t know why I haven’t thought of using ricotta in my pasta sauce! This is such a great idea! Trying this out later with the nutmeg!

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