Basically, it's just a matter of taking a pound of white beans (navy, great northern, cannellini, etc.) and soaking overnight (we find that changing the water several times aids in, er, digestion).

When it's time to cook them, drain thoroughly, then put them in a heavy dutch oven with enough water to cover plus about an inch. Toss in a whole, peeled onion and up to a tablespoon of ground sage. Bring to a boil on top of the stove, then put them in an oven at EXTREMELY low temperature and bake until they're creamy but not falling apart. Cooking time may vary quite a bit with temperature and the particular batch of beans you chose, so you've got to keep an eye on them ... it may take an hour at 250F or as long as two hours at 170F, if you can get your oven down that low. Very long, very gentle simmering is the key. According to legend, the Tuscans used to make this dish (back when they didn't have ovens) by trucking their bean pots down to the local bakery, which would pop them into the cooling ovens after the bread was baked.

The traditional way to serve these little fellers is warm or at room temperature, drizzled with a little very fruity, green olive oil and salted and peppered to taste after they're done. Salting them before or during cooking is non-traditional. Dunno if it makes any real difference, though.

We find that a mound of these, with good bread and butter, a salad and a glass or two of wine, makes a meatless meal; but these beans are also a good base for a very quick pasta e fagioli ... just stir them together with a cup of small pasta like rotini or conchiglie and your choice of tomatoes, which could be tomato paste, home-made tomato sauce, or fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, and pile on the Parmigiana. This variation makes one of the few veggie dishes that really goes well with a red wine, especially something like your old fave, Salice Salentino.

Buon' appetito!