As we celebrate the rich culinary history of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, we’re highlighting three recipes that use the famed “three sisters” – corn, beans, and squash.
Corn, beans, and squash are known as “the three sisters” in Native American farming. When planted together the corn produces a foundation for the beans to climb, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil, and the vines and leaves from the squash provide moisture and protection from weeds and unwanted pests.
These recipes are presented by Executive Chef Chriz Lenza, who has worked with Native American-owned Ramona Farms, a long-time Farm to Fork partner of Bon Appétit in the Arizona and California region.
Native American-Inspired Poshol with Roasted Butternut Squash and Wheat Berries
A simple, soul-warming stew made with rich ancient wheat berries, sweet mesquite heirloom corn, and nutty flavored tepary beans delicately simmered together with fire roasted flavors form charred butternut squash.
Makes 20 servings
- 1 small whole butternut squash
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 2 cups dry brown or white tepary beans,* (cleaned, rinsed, and soaked)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat berries
- 1/2 cup dried whole cob-kernel roasted Pima corn**
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, or wild onion if available (small diced)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1.25 gallons water
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Slice butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Rub the flesh side of butternut squash with oil and ancho chili powder. Place butternut squash onto grill flesh side down and grill 10-15 until squash becomes charred and slightly cooked. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin from flesh and cut into one-inch cubes and set aside.
In a large soup or stock pot add tepary beans, wheat berries, corn, onion, garlic, cumin, and water. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and add butternut squash and salt. Continue to slowly simmer and cover with lid, stirring frequently for 4-5 hours or until beans, corn, and wheat berries are cooked.
*Tepary Beans = dry beans or canned beans. If using canned beans, in the recipe add the beans with the butternut squash to account for a different cooking time and avoid overcooking. You can also substitute the following other dried beans for tepary beans (Anasazi, pinto, black bean, cranberry).
**Dried whole kernel cob-roasted Pima corn = canned corn, frozen or fresh corn off the cob. If using canned, fresh, or frozen corn, in the recipe add with the butternut squash to account for a different cooking time and avoid overcooking.
Three Sisters Inspired Fry Bread Tacos
Enjoy the harmony of scrumptious fry bread tacos topped with a delightful composition of sweet corn, nutritious beans, and tender squash.
Makes 18 servings
- 1 cup dry white or brown tepary Beans
- 1 dried chipotle chili powder
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion or wild onion if available, small diced
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded, small diced
- 1 cup fresh corn, cut off the cob
- 1 cup winter or summer squash, small dice
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 18 pieces of fry bread*, recipe below
- 2 each heirloom tomato, small diced
- 1 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 6 tablespoons shredded Mexican-style cheese
- 6 tablespoons sour cream
In a soup or stock pot add beans and chipotle powder and add enough water to cover about 3-4 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4-5 hours, or until beans are tender, periodically adding water as needed to cover beans throughout the cooking process. When beans are tender, turn off heat and let beans sit in pot with liquid until cool enough to handle. Strain beans and save liquid. In a blender add beans and enough ‘reserved’ water to blend beans into a smooth puree. Set aside bean puree.
In a large skillet on medium heat add oil. Add garlic, onion, and jalapeno and cook 1-2 minutes until soft, stirring frequently. Next, add corn, squash, thyme, and salt. Continue to cook stirring frequently until squash is tender. Remove thyme.
Assemble fry bread taco. Spread bean puree evenly in fry bread, add sauteed vegetables, and top with tomato, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.
*See Third Generation Fry Bread recipe below.
*Tepary Beans = dry beans or canned beans. If using canned beans in the recipe, add the beans with the butternut squash to account for a different cooking time and avoid overcooking. You can also substitute the following other dried beans for tepary beans (Anasazi, pinto, black bean, cranberry).
Third Generation Fry Bread
This recipe was adapted from the cookbook The New Native American Cuisines from the chefs of Arizona’s Kai restaurant. The recipe’s name comes from one of the restaurant’s first cooks, from the native community who developed it and from what he learned from his mother and grandmother.
Makes 18 pieces
- 4 cups Blue Bird* or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
- 1 cup warm mineral water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 cups oil for frying, (canola)
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the lard using a fork or two knives until you have a crumbly consistency. Add water and milk and mix until dough forms a ball. Knead by hand in a bowl no more than 10 times, forming a smooth ball that is not sticky. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer, Dutch oven, or deep skillet to 350 degrees
Pull a small knob from the dough (the size of the knob will depend on how big you want your dough to be; the larger the knob, then the larger your dough will be when you fry it). On a floured surface, form it into a round, flat shape about 5 or 6 inches in diameter and with a thickness of about ¼ inch. The dough should be flat and large enough to hold food inside like a pocket.
Place the dough gently into the hot oil and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the process until all the dough has been used.
*Blue Bird Flour: Blue Bird Flour is milled in Cortez Colorado with a fine grind and high gluten content. Blue Bird Flour is key for the best authentic Native American frybread.