Beans and bacon are a classic combination. Here they join with pasta and Napa cabbage to make a rustic dish that comes together in 20 minutes. This is also a great example of how a little bit of bacon goes a long way.
The bacon is a key seasoning ingredient, so choose a brand with a deep, smoky flavor.
Pasta with cannellini beans, cabbage and bacon
8 ounces dried pasta, preferably campanelle, shells or orecchiette
4 ounces apple wood smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 1/2 cups homemade or canned, no-salt-added cannellini beans (if using canned, drain and rinse them)
6 ounces Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch strips
3/4 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick braising pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, until some of the bacon’s fat is rendered. Add the onion; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion softens and the bacon starts to brown around the edges.
Add the beans, cabbage and broth. Season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate. Cover; once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring once or twice, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta; add it to the bean and cabbage mixture, stirring to incorporate.
Serve warm, drizzled with a little oil, if desired. Pass the cheese and a black-pepper grinder at the table, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories, 15 g protein, 61 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar