Beans and ham go together like country cousins - pork and beans, as in bacon-spiked baked beans; navy bean soup with nuggets of ham; and one of my favorites from my grandmother's kitchen: steamed green beans, fresh-picked from her farm's garden, studded with morsels of salty ham.

This dish plays with that dynamic duo, substituting pieces of crackly prosciutto - made so by rendering in a skillet - to pair with the plump green beans. Toasted pine nuts play their flavor off both green beans and the cured ham. Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil bring it all together.

Ham and Beans Pasta

Makes 6 servings

 8 ounces green beans, ends trimmed

1 pound penne pasta

4 slices prosciutto (diced baked ham, crisp

bacon, or slivers of country ham may be

substituted)

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the green beans. Cook until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon; keep warm. Add penne to the boiling water; cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, cook prosciutto slices in a large dry skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; break into rough pieces.

3. Toss the drained pasta in a large bowl with the green beans, pine nuts, and Parmesan; drizzle with olive oil. Divide pasta among six plates; top with prosciutto pieces.

Per serving: 458 calories, 17 grams protein, 61 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 278 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.