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I'm a big bean fan. The beautiful heirloom varieties hitting the market these days turn the humble bean into the foundation for some pretty spectacular dishes. And the best thing about this nouveau bean revolution? They're super easy to make, especially with this 2-ingredient recipe.

Kale bean salad by Kelly Cline
Kale bean salad is one dish you can create from the basic slow cooker bean recipe. Photo by Kelly Cline

After years of fails when messing around with cooking dried beans on a simmer on the stove top and trying to recreate my grandmother's Boston-style beans in her beloved bean pot, I found the best way to cook beans by chance. It was too hot to crank up the oven or fire up the stove top, so I dusted off the slow cooker and added some prize-winning pinto beans my sister sent me from Colorado. After 10 hours on low, they were as creamy as a stick of butter and I've been following that ridiculously simple process ever since.

The key? Beer. Two cups of dried beans, one can or bottle of beer, cover with water and that's it.

Drunken beans are nothing new, of course, but most recipes call for all sorts of spices and aromatic veggies, and while those frills are fabulous, this 2-ingredient preparation provides a great foundation to build on. Be a purist and go for beans and rice one night, then dress those puppies up in a pretty salad the next. Two cups of beans swell to four or more, so you could definitely spread the bean love throughout the week.

For inspiration on finishing your slow cooker beans in style, check out these recipes and more. Or dive into an on-point variation of beans and greens with Kelly Cline's creation.

Kale, Bean and Sweet Potato Salad

1 teaspoon oil1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled, 1/2-inch dice4 cups curly kale, washed and torn into 1-inch pieces1 cup Radicchio, washed and torn into 1-inch pieces1 cup cooked beans1/4 cup dressing, recipe below

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut sweet Potato into 1/2-inch dice, coat with the oil and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Take out and let cool. In a large salad bowl, add in the kale, radicchio, the cooked beans and cooled sweet potato. Add dressing, toss to coat evenly.

Dressing1/4 cup olive oil (or Canola)1/4 cup red wine vinegar2 teaspoons honey1 teaspoon Dijon mustard1 teaspoon shallot, chopped1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend for 1 minute. Makes 1/2 cup of dressing. Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container for up 1 week.

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