Soak dried beans overnight, well covered with cold water. I used cannellini beans.
1 Drain the soaking water and place beans in a large pot or casserole. Set the oven to medium.
2 Cover beans with cold water. Add a good slug of olive oil and a little salt.
3 Now add the flavourings that appeal to you - thyme sprigs, bay leaf, sage leaves, garlic, a whole onion, canned tomatoes, citrus zest, a fresh or dried chilli - all or some of these. You could add a ham hock. I kept it simple and added just an onion and some sage leaves.
4 Put the lid on the pot and cook in the oven until tender, at least an hour.
5 To serve, drain the beans and dress with oil. Season with salt and pepper, fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Tip: These beans can be served as a side dish, turned into a salad, or mixed with wilted greens (silverbeet cooked with a few chilli flakes would be good). I served them very "au natural" with some chilli oil and grilled sourdough bread. I pretended I was in Italy.By Grant Allen