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Pasta With Cannellini Beans, Cabbage and Bacon

Pasta With Cannellini Beans, Cabbage and Bacon. Illustrates FOOD-NOURISH (category d), by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, March 24, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Sarah L. Voisin)

Pasta With Cannellini Beans, Cabbage and Bacon. Illustrates FOOD-NOURISH (category d), by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, March 24, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Sarah L. Voisin)

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

11/2 cups 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

kosher salt

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.

Makes 4 servings.

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