This is one of the easiest things I make- easily done in 20 minutes, start to finish. It’s pretty, too.
Instead of dairy cream I make a quick cashew cream. The cashews can be soaked in cool water during the hours while at work, ready to go by dinnertime. Otherwise, soak them for for 20-30 minutes in very hot water for times when planning ahead doesn’t work out. Unlike almond milk/cream, cashew cream does not need to be strained, so it’s really just a matter of throwing soaked cashews in a blender with a bit of water and running it on high.
Try to find the thinly sliced big rounds of pancetta, otherwise just use prosciutto. You really want those satisfying bites of umami scattered in your bowl, not the minced up pancetta that’ll just blend in with everything else.
As with any nut based sauce, cashew cream thickens with time, so if you’re making this knowing it’s going to sit for a bit before being enjoyed, add a little more of the broth at the end than is called for, up to 1/2 a cup.
Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream
½ cup cashews
8 ounces pasta (I like Jovial brown rice casarecce)
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon grass fed butter (or neutral oil, such as avocado oil, for 100% dairy free version)
1 medium/large leek, white part only, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces thin pancetta rounds or thinly sliced prosciutto
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
¼ cup broth or water
Salt and black pepper
Fresh thyme or chervil, to serve
What to do:
Make cashew cream:
Soak cashews in cool water for 2-5 hours (or 20-30 minutes in hot water if you haven’t planned ahead). Drain cashews and blend on high setting with 1 cup water and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Prepare the pasta:
Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a medium pot or high sided sauté pan, sweat leeks and garlic in olive oil/butter mix over medium heat. Try to avoid any browning.
Reduce heat to low and add pancetta/prosciutto to pot, twirling them so they cook up into little bundles.
Add cooked and drained pasta, cashew cream, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to pan with leeks and prosciutto.
Remove pan from heat, taste, and adjust for salt and pepper. Loosen sauce with broth or water and finish with fresh thyme or chervil just before serving.