Saturday, July 16, 2011

Three Sisters Summer Stew

The three sisters, according to the Iroquois, are corn, beans, and squash; and they like to stick together. Many Native American communities had a longstanding farming tradition of planting the three sisters together in the same mound, which is an excellent sustainable farming practice because they work well together to maintain healthy soil. Corn, beans, and squash are also a healthy eating combination for sustaining the human body. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.


6 cups of uncooked squash sliced
1½ cups corn kernels
½ cup chopped green beans
1 chopped red pepper
2 cups chopped tomatoes or one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 cups pre-cooked black soy or black beans (one 15-oz. can or equivalent frozen)
½ cup finely chopped onion or 1 tsp. onion granules
2 tbsp. brown or black mustard seeds
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup finely chopped fresh basil (preferably Thai basil) or 2 tbsp. dried basil
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. black pepper
salt to taste


Chop all the vegetables and herbs so that they are ready to go.

Heat the olive oil over high heat. When smoke begins to rise off the oil, put the mustard seeds and crushed garlic into the hot oil and allow them to fry until the mustard seeds “pop” and the garlic begins to brown. Add the onions, chopped green beans, and red peppers and allow to fry on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Turn the heat off. Add the tomatoes, honey, and herbs/spices. Turn the heat back on at a low simmer. Add the squash and basil and allow to cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. (If the soy beans are frozen, add them here, otherwise, wait to add them in a minute with the corn). Then add the corn and the soy beans. Continue to cook until all the ingredients are cooked, but the squash is still a bit crunchy. Cook this uncovered, otherwise the squash will tend to steam and get soggy. By leaving it uncovered, you can control the texture of the squash better and keep it a bit crispy even when cooked.

Here are some additional notes. I recommend using a combination of zucchini and patty pan squashes for this recipe. The corn kernels can come from a can (or frozen), but much better is to steam a couple of ears of fresh corn and then cut the kernels off the cobs. Yum. As for the soy beans, this recipe can also work with any other bean you want to use. I like to use black soy beans or black beans for the color contrast. If you are a fan of lima beans, then go for it and you will have a sort of succotash on steroids! Nothing does it for this recipe like fresh basil. I grow Thai basil in the garden and it’s heavenly.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

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