Pasta, beans and greens: an Italian delight


November 28, 2007|By Joe Gray | Joe Gray,Chicago Tribune

Traveling can expose us to foods in a way difficult to duplicate when enjoying the same dishes at home. When traveling with family last year in Italy, my teen-age nephew and niece struggled sometimes to find something on the menu that they would like.

In Florence, my nephew asked for pasta fazool. No, they didn't have that, and that's not how they say it up north (pasta fazool is a Southern dialect name for Pasta e Fagioli, or Pasta and Beans). So this dish is for him. It has myriad variations from all over Italy.

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Pasta and Fagioli With Greens

-- Makes 4 servings -- Total time: about 40 minutes

2 cups tubetti or other small pasta

4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 cups chopped kale or spinach

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth, plus more if needed

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

Heat a large pan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pasta; cook according to package directions until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until fat renders and meat is browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until it begins to color, about 1 minute.

Add greens, stirring to coat with fat. Cover; stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 20 minutes (if using spinach, the cooking time will be 5 to 10 minutes).

Add salt and pepper to taste; stir in the pasta, broth and beans. Add more broth or water if dry. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in ricotta until mixture is creamy. Season with red-pepper flakes.

Per serving: 426 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 60 grams carbohydrate, 22 grams protein, 1,096 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber


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