Rigatoni with Sweet Italian Sausage and Arugula in a Jalapeño Lemon Ricotta Sauce

Lemons and jalapeños combined with ricotta to make a pasta sauce sounded like a perfect pairing to me. I’ve had several people ask me ]how I come up with some of my recipes. A lot of times, it’s when I’m out for a walk. Last night, I came up with this recipe on the fly as I was preparing to make our dinner. I pulled out a package of rigatoni from my pantry and a carton of skim ricotta from the fridge. I saw a package of arugula on the bottom shelf and the rest came together after I opened my crisper drawer.

While I was browning a pound of sweet Italian sausage, I minced three cloves of garlic and diced four jalapeños to add to the cooked sausage. I sprinkled a teaspoon of kosher salt and a 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning onto the pork.

After adding the garlic and peppers, I let them cook with the pork for 5 minutes before adding the ricotta. After adding the ricotta, I poured in 3/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (having zested all three lemons before needing to squeeze out the juice). I stirred the ricotta and lemon juice into the sausage mixture and let it simmer for a few minutes.

I then added a 5 ounce container of arugula (a sprinkling of kosher salt and 2 pinches of red pepper flakes) and some of the pasta water I had reserved from my cooked rigatoni. (I reserved a cup of water from the pasta pot and ended up needing about 1/2 of that to loosen my sauce just a bit.)

Next, I added the cooked rigatoni and a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan to the skillet and mixed everything together.

I added the lemon zest just before serving.

This pasta dish was satisfying, refreshing and so good. I added freshly shredded parmesan and an extra pinch of red pepper flakes before serving.

My husband, Dennis, and I both really enjoyed this dinner. In fact, I’m really looking forward to leftovers for lunch today!


1 pound sweet Italian sausage

1 pound rigatoni

5 ounce package arugula

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 jalapeños, diced

3 lemons, zest and juice

15 ounce container skim ricotta

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon, plus a pinch, kosher salt

2 pinches red pepper flakes

1/2-1 cup reserved pasta water (reserve 1 cup, you may only need 1/2)

1/2 cup grated parmesan

fresh grated parmesan for serving


  1. Sprinkle Italian sausage with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and Italian seasoning and cook 5-7 minutes, until browned and crumbly.
  2. Add diced jalapeños and garlic. Let cook until jalapeños soften a bit, a few minutes.
  3. Scoop ricotta onto sausage mixture and add lemon juice. Stir into pork and let cook together 5 minutes.
  4. Add arugula, along with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until arugula wilts.
  5. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Add rigatoni to skillet, along with grated Parmesan. Mix together until well combined. Add lemon zest.
  6. Serve with freshly shredded parmesan and a pinch of kosher salt.


Until next time, Kris

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Look at all that wonderful lemon goodness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I love lemon 🍋 abd summer seems like a great time to add it to a pasta sauce. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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