I have a really good friend who is lactose intolerant. I made this the first time for him, using another friend's vegan cream sauce recipe. It became a favorite in my house, a really quick, delicious, satisfying pasta dish that can accommodate vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters who are lactose intolerant. Feel free to switch up the ingredients -- I've also made this in the spring time with fresh peas instead of the kale, and it was delicious! —JORJ
Optional: soak the cashews overnight or for at least 4 hours. Discard the soaking water before moving on to the next step.
Put all the ingredients for the cashew cream sauce in the food processor or blender and process until smooth -- it is worth it to let it run for a while so it is really smooth and creamy. this is like an alfredo sauce or a bechamel.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Optional: add the pancetta to a large pot or flat-sided saute pan over medium heat, with a little olive oil over to get it going. Render the fat till the pancetta is crispy, but not cooked to a crisp. Add the rest of the pasta ingredients to this pot -- cook everything in the pancetta fat!
Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent in a large saute flat-sided saute pan or a pot, then add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the ribbons of kale and saute until tender.
When the pasta is almost done, add the cashew cream to the kale and stir so that it gets incorporated around the rest of the ingredients. Drain the pasta but reserve a little of the cooking liquid.
Add the pasta to the kale/cream sauce pot. mix it all together so that the pasta is well-coated with the sauce. The pasta will absorb some of the cashew cream. You can add some of the pasta cooking water if the whole mixture gets too dry.
Plate up the pasta, garnishing it with some parsley and adding some grated parmesan on top for the non-vegans/lactose tolerant. It is good to add a little crushed red pepper too if you like heat.