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Take a culinary trip to Italy with this dish

Take a culinary trip to Italy with this dish
Beans and ham, they go together like country cousins. This dish plays with that dynamic duo, subbing pieces of crackly prosciutto for ham. Enjoy! (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

Beans and ham, they 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, subbing 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.

A crisp white wine would be a refreshing companion. Try an Italian white, such as Soave or pinot bianco, or an unoaked California sauvignon blanc.

Tips: Sub the prosciutto with diced baked ham, crisp bacon or slivers of country ham.

Ham and beans pasta

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 13 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
8 ounces green beans, ends trimmed
1 pound penne pasta
4 slices prosciutto
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.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 458 calories, 32% of calories from fat, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 61 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 278 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.

jxgray@tribune.com

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