Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Three Sisters

It's true: I'm an only child. For all my childhood, I celebrated this fact. There were certain unalienable truths about my existence, I knew. For one, I was the axis, the absolute center of my parents' world. Irreplaceable, invaluable, etc. Conceited? Yeah, maybe a little of that, too. This is not the point. The point is, I didn't get to have siblings. Specifically, sisters. Just about everyone I know has sisters, these other woman to share things with and to lean on. What did I miss by not having one? Who knows. I can say this, though: if I'd had sisters, I'd have wanted us to be as perfectly balanced as The Three Sisters. Corn, beans, and squash.

Never mind that the sweet crunch of the corn and the soft suppleness of the squash are balanced perfectly by the earthy beans. Never mind that, planted together, these three crops are an agricultural trifecta which requires neither weeding nor watering nor fencing. And never mind that the amino acids absent in the corn are completed by the beans, and that the Aztec understood this relationship approximately two thousand years before nutrition science even existed. Corn, beans, and squash are as perfect an interrelationship as you can get. Enough said? Okay, let's move on to the recipe.

I've had this in my arsenal for many years. It's been cooked for potlucks and special dinners. I gave a big batch to my aunt for Christmas this year. It even had the honor of gracing our Thanksgiving table this year, inside the pumpkin. I love it for lots of reasons. It tastes great, that's the first one. Also, frozen corn and canned beans are ingredients I almost always have on hand. You've probably got 'em, too. All it takes is a little red onion, a buxom butternut squash, and a sprinkling of sage and cayenne to make this come together.

Three Sisters Stew

1 2-lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 large red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss together all the above ingredients, and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the onion bits are golden-brown and the squash chunks are cooked through.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 15-oz can beans of your choice (cannelini, lima, pinto, etc)
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in the bottom of a big pot. Add the sage, thyme, and cayenne, and stir for about thirty seconds, or until your kitchen smells like potpourri. Add the corn, beans, and broth, and slowly bring up the heat. You want it to be good and hot just when the squash is ready to come out of the oven, which will take some time.

Once the squash is done, add it to the pot, along with the parsley. Taste to adjust the seasonings, and serve. Enjoy!

I should add that, should one desire, the vegetable broth can be omitted to make more of a casserole type dish. Either way, it's tasty.

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Karli said...

This was one of my Superbowl favorites.... thanks for making it and for posting the recipe!

Kristina said...

My pleasure! For Superbowl I obviously made the non-stew variation. :)

ChristyACB said...

I'm definitely giving this recipe a try! Since I'm growing the three sisters this year in the traditional way (yeah!), this will be a nice way to showcase them at the table.

Thank you!

Kristina said...

Thanks for your comment, Christy. Have fun with your garden! From what I understand, it's best if the corn gets about a two-week head start.

katherine mary said...

i HIGHLY recommend this recipe and if someone does make it feel free to send some my way!! ymmmm!! <3

Anonymous said...

do you suppose you could substitute the butternut with japanese kabocha? that's all we got here ^^;;

Kristina said...

Kabocha would probably be more difficult to peel, but I'm sure the flavor would work just fine. As long as it's good and sweet and quintessentially squashy.

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