At a rustic trattoria in Florence, my nephew Ryan, 17 at the time, tried to order pasta fazool. Uh, no, they didn't have it - 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. Pasta and fagioli is a great warming dish with myriad variations from all over Italy. This one uses the greens of the season and gets creaminess from fresh ricotta stirred in at the end.

Pasta and Fagioli With Greens

Makes 4 servings

2 cups tubetti or other small pasta

4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 cups chopped greens such as kale or spinach

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 can (141/2 ounces) chicken broth

1 can (15 ounces)

cannellini beans, drained

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Boil a large pan of salted water over medium-high heat. Add pasta; cook according to package directions until almost tender. 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 5-10 minutes).


Add salt and pepper to taste; stir in the pasta, broth and beans. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add ricotta, stirring until mixture is creamy. Season with the red pepper flakes.

Per serving:

426 calories, 22 grams protein, 60 grams carbohydrats, 10 grams fat, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 1,096 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber