Oct 14, 2014
Three Sisters Harvest Stew
This is a sublime combination of flavors. And it is so perfect for a hearty, warming autumn meal. But who are the “Three Sisters” anyway? They are corn, beans and squash according to Native American mythology. And, in reality, these sisters may very well have been the first “companion planting” known to our soils.
Native Americans knew a thing or two about survival and sustenance. And the Three Sisters method of companion planting ensured an abundance of all three crops. Pole beans seek out something to climb, and corn plants serve this purpose. In turn, the beans’ vines benefit the corn plants by helping to stabilize them during heavy weather. Squash leaves act like large umbrellas, offering shade and allowing the soil to retain moisture as well as shading the ground, which cuts down on weeds and their spiny leaves and stems protect all three crops from predators. Beans also provide a particular kind of bacteria that takes nitrogen from the air and changes it into a form useable for corn.
These perfect-union crops not only grow well together but they come together in perfect unison in this lovely, seasonal stew. Most recipes don’t use pole beans. You can really use whatever beans you prefer. I used pintos. And in all of the preparations I have seen, the squash is cut up in the stew. I changed it up a bit and pureed the squash, using it as the base. I also don’t use peppers, which some folks do. I prefer the mellow flavors of the squash and the beans and peppers can be rather assertive and take over the dish!
- 3 cups roasted butternut squash flesh
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 sweet potato, cubed
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans
- 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 1 TBS Spike salt-free seasoning
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 TBS fresh sage, minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- Pre-roast the butternut squash. You can make this ahead and keep it in your fridge. If you need directions for this see my post on Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.
- Cook the onion and the sweet potato with the fresh herbs and the Spike in one cup of water until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Add more water if needed.
- Blend the butternut with 2 cups of water and add it to the pot. Stir well to combine.
- Add the beans and the corn and simmer until everything is hot. That’s it!
Serves 4-6. Enjoy!