1 pound penne rigate or whole wheat penne
1/4 pound pancetta (3-4 slices) thick-cut like bacon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 ribs celery from the heart with leafy tops, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can small white beans "Roman" beans (15 ounces), such as Goya brand, or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups grated Romano cheese, divided
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt it and cook the pasta to just shy of al dente.
Chop the pancetta into 1/4-inch dice.
While the pasta cooks, heat a skillet with EVOO over medium to medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add celery, carrot, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until tender, 6-7 minutes. Add the beans and heat them through. Stir in 1/2 cup wine, simmer for 30 seconds more and turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf.
While the vegetables cook, place a small saucepot over medium heat and add the butter. Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reduce for 4-5 minutes, stir in half the grated cheese, then turn off heat and adjust seasoning.
While the sauce cooks, place a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the broiler to high.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss with the white bean mixture and sauce, stirring to coat. Transfer to a casserole dish, top with the remaining cheese and place in the oven to brown, 5 minutes.