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Tomato and Herb Navy Beans with Stuffed Grape Leaves

You’ll be the star of the next potluck if you bring in this delicious dish of stuffed grape leaves and beans.  We couldn’t resist this satisfying bean dish, made vegetarian by omitting the bacon, from epicurious. While the stuffed grape leaves recipe comes from Patty Moschonas at http://allrecipes.com.
BEANS AND SAUCE
Ingredients for beans:
  • 1 cup dried navy beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs
  • 1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
  • 1 (3-inch) sage sprig
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
 Ingredients for tomato sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (from 1 to 2 heads)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato purée
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme
Directions for beans:
  1. Soak beans overnight (8 to 12 hours) in water to cover by 2 inches or quick-soak (see cooks’ note, below), then drain.
  2. Bring beans, water (6 cups), carrot, onion, and herb sprigs to a simmer in a 4-quart heavy pot, then simmer, partially covered, until beans are al dente, about 45 minutes.
 Directions for tomato sauce:
  1. Make sauce while beans simmer
  2. Cook oil and onion, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 12 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato purée, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
 Finish beans:
  • Discard carrot and herb sprigs.
  • Drain beans in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid, and return beans to pot.
  • Add tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups bean-cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 60 grape leaves, drained and rinsed
  • hot water as needed
 Directions:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the rice, onion, dill, and mint for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Pour in 1 quart of broth, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked. Stir in 1/2 of lemon juice and remove from heat.
  2. Take one leaf, shiny side down, and place 1 teaspoon of the rice mixture at the bottom (stem) end of the leaf. Fold both sides of the leaf towards the center, roll up from the broad bottom to the top, and place into a 4-quart pot. Repeat with all leaves, leaving no gaps as leaves are placed in pot (to prevent from opening while cooking). Sprinkle with remaining lemon juice and with olive oil.
  3. Pour broth over all to cover grape leaves. Cover pot and simmer for about 1 hour (do not boil, because this will make the stuffing burst out of the leaves). Remove from heat, remove cover and let cool for 1/2 hour. Transfer to serving dish and serve.