My grandpa likes to make a version of this down-home dish with a long-simmered ham hock with which the dry beans cook for hours. It's rich - and fatty, and takes a lot of time. I prefer the little lighter version they make here in Italia, using just a little bit of pancetta and a jar of beans. There is just enough pancetta to add flavor. It's done in about ten minutes, and it can be a main dish or an accompaniment. Grandpa uses collard greens, but I prefer the fresh, tender spinach.
Cannellini e Spinaci
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 TBSP pancetta, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
about 1/2 pound spinach, cleaned
1 can cannellini beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
dash red chile flakes
Drizzle some olive oil in a saucepan or deep skillet that is large enough to hold all the spinach. Add the pancetta and saute until starting to brown, then add the garlic. When the garlic starts to color, add the spinach and mix well. Saute and toss to get the spinach to start to wilt. Add the wine, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes. Uncover; add the seasonings and the beans, and cook about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.