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Shared by Stella Hanan Cohen

Yaprakes De Oja De Parra Kon Avas (Stuffed Grape Leaves Stewed With White Beans)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: Overnight soaking + 4 h

Yaprakes De Oja De Parra Kon Avas (Stuffed Grape Leaves Stewed With White Beans)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: Overnight soaking + 4 h

Family Journey

SpainRhodes, GreeceMarmarise, Turkey
Élisabethville, Belgian Congo (present-day Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo)Salisbury, Rhodesia (present-day Harare, Zimbabwe)

You can substitute 3 14oz cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, for the dry beans.

This recipe was shared by Stella Hanan Cohen. Read more about her family in "For His Bar Mitzvah, a Grandson Is Learning His Ancestors’ Recipes From Spain and Beyond" and try her recipe for Albondigas Di Karne Kon Tomato (Meatballs Poached in Tomato Sauce).


For the beans

  • 2 cups dried cannellini or navy beans, soaked overnight in 4 cups of cold water and drained
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

For the broth

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound bone-in veal ossobuco cut into chunks or lamb chops
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock

For the grape leaves

  • 1 pound fresh, young, tender grape leaves or brine-preserved leaves

For the filling

  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • ⅔ cup medium-grain rice, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 

For cooking

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into ½ inch slices crosswise 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

For serving

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, cut in wedges


  • Step 1

    Cook the beans: Put the beans in a large pan with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add the onion, bay leaves and sage leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 1½ hours or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. The cooking time depends on the quality and age of the beans. Check frequently as they cook, adding more hot water as necessary. Add the salt in the last 10 minutes of cooking. When the beans are tender, drain in a colander and discard the onion and herbs.

  • Step 2

    Make the chicken and veal broth:Place 2 tablespoons ofoil in a large, deep, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the veal or lamb and sear until lightly brown on all sides. Add the onion and pour enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes or until the meat is very tender. Add hot water as necessary. Transfer the broth out of the pot and reserve it on the side. Leave the meat in the pot. 

  • Step 3

    Prepare the leaves: If using fresh grape leaves, blanch the grape leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes, in batches, then rinse in cold water and drain. If using preserved grape leaves, rinse and drain the grape leaves from the preserved juices. Drape the grape leaves over the edge of a colander to drain thoroughly. Lay the grape leaves on a work surface, vein side up with the stem towards you. Cut off the stems if using fresh grape leaves. 

  • Step 4

    Make the filling:Mix the beef or lamb, rice, parsley, dill, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper in a large bowl until combined. 

  • Step 5

    Stuff the leaves: Lay a grape leaf vein side up and place a tablespoon of the filling in the lower third of the leaf near the stem end. Fold both sides inward over the filling and starting at the stem end nearest to you, roll up the grape leaf into a cigar shape. Place the grape leaves seam side down on a tray. Repeat with the remaining leaves until all the filling is used.

  • Step 6

    To cook:Add half of the cooked beans in one layer to the heavy based pot with the meat in it. Arrange the stuffed leaves side-by-side, seam side down, over the beans packing them tightly in concentric circles. Place the sliced tomatoes over the stuffed grape leaves. Scatter over the remaining beans. Weigh the stuffed grape leaves down with an inverted heatproof plate large enough to fit the pan to keep the stuffed grape leaves from unravelling during cooking. Combine the hot reserved chicken and meat broth, lemon juice, oil, hot water and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour this mixture into the pan along the sides, just enough to cover the stuffed grape leaves. If necessary, add more hot water. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the filling has cooked. Shake the pan from time to time so that the cooking liquid circulates. Add a little hot water as necessary to keep the stuffed grape leaves covered. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and cook for another 10 minutes, swirling the liquid around for the sauce to seep through evenly. Test one stuffed leafto ensure the leaves have softened and the filling is cooked. Taste and adjust the cooking liquid for salt and lemon juice.

  • Step 7

    To serve: Remove the plate from the pot and carefully transfer the grapeleaves, beans and meat into a deep serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oiland serve hot with  a few lemon wedges on the side.