The Three Sisters Stew is a traditional and contemporary Native American dish. The dish includes the three sister foods are the maize, beans, and squash, which are prevalent in Native American diets. The three traditional ingredients made together because of farming methods that often included all three crops grown in the same field with an interdependent relationship. Beans climb the tall maize stalks, and fertilize the soil throughout their lives. Squash covers the ground between maize stalks, protecting the bean and maize roots.
- 1 small pumpkin or 1 large butternut or carnival squash (about 2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into short, narrow strips
- 14 to 16 ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 2 cups cooked or canned pinto beans
- 2 cups corn kernels (from 2 large or medium ears)
- 1 cup water or home made vegetable stock
- 1 or 2 fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, dried oregano
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cut the pumpkin or squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and fibers. Cover with aluminum foil and place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm (if using squash, prepare the same way). When cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp, and cut into large dice. Set aside until needed.
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add the pumpkin and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2 and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through as needed. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Serve in shallow bowls.