Basil Ricotta Macaroni and Cheese

So, one of the most popular posts on this here blog is the one about making homemade fresh ricotta.  Yep, right there in the comfort of your own kitchen – it takes three ingredients and about ten minutes, and you will never ever be happy with store-bought ricotta again, so consider yourself warned.  Once you make it you will want to keep making it over and over again, so your biggest issue will be figuring out what to do with all that glorious ricotta.  I have lots of answers for you, and my latest one is basil ricotta macaroni and cheese!

I actually got this idea from one of my readers who left a comment on the ricotta post (thanks, Chelsea!) – she said she mixed up her ricotta into some penne with basil, and all kinds of recipe lightbulbs went off in my head.  This mac and cheese doesn’t have a speck of the traditional cheddar anywhere…it’s all about the creamy, dreamy ricotta, gently swirled into some buttered pasta, and then scattered with fresh basil and a generous grinding of black pepper.

It’s light and airy and perfect.  And the 1,848, 364th reason that you really, really do need to make your own ricotta.  Trust me!

Basil Ricotta Macaroni and Cheese
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • 8 ounces short pasta (elbows, cavatappi, etc)
  • ¼ cup soft butter
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Cook pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain. Return to pot.
  2. Add butter and stir until butter is melted. Add ricotta and stir gently until ricotta is worked into the pasta.
  3. Pour a little pasta water into the pot until you have a very light sauce.
  4. Divide among plates. Grind fresh pepper on top, scatter basil leaves on each plate and serve.


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  1. Karen Nelson says

    I remember making my first batch of Ricotta at you gentle nudging:-)!
    I thought for sure I was was wasting my time and that it would never work.
    But alas! Sooo good and easy! I felt like a rock star!
    Great way to impress your friends too;-)
    This sounds wonderful… just got my first basil plant for the season!

    • Kate says

      Isn’t basil season the best? I have to discipline myself to wait until Mother’s Day when the chance of frost is over – so hard!!

  2. says

    This looks delish! I have never tried to make my own ricotta (or any other cheese..). I love that this has no tomato so I can make this for both my husband and I as he can’t have most baked pasta dishes!

  3. Sheila says

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m going to try this for dinner tonight. We Just got back from a month long vacation and our cupboards and refrigerator are pretty empty, except I do have all of these ingredients. I will use my 25 jars of frozen basil (with my summer basil I process pesto, without the cheese or nuts every summer and freeze for winter enjoyment) Also I will add a few sun dried tomatoes, maybe I even have some capers. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


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