Corn, Beans, and Squash
Revered by the Native Population, combine for delicious meals
When Indigenous Peoples’ Day arrives, I make a meal to honor the Native American population, and if I’m lucky I can even get the last of the local sweet corn to use. If not, I always have some in the freezer tucked away for these purposes. This year, I think I got the last four ears left at the farm stand!
“Three Sisters” – Companions in Cultivation and Nutrition
I absolutely love this recipe because it combines the “three sisters” revered by our native Americans who grew their important, first semi-cultivated crops of corn, beans, and squash in a way that nourished not only their bodies, but the soils as well. This was the first companion planting, and it served the native population, and our earth, well. By using this technique, they could plant their crop, and move on to hunting and fishing spots through the season, returning at harvest time.
My family loves it because it is absolutely delicious.
Sister Corn provided the grain for the diet throughout the long winter, as well as the supporting stalk for the beans during the growing season. Sister Bean provided protein and fiber and many other nutrients, as well as soil improvement by fixing nitrogen from the air in its roots. Sister Squash helped everyone out by discouraging weeds and pests with its lush foliage ground cover, and also added beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and other nutrients to the diet.
Good Crops for Preservation
In addition to assisting each other in cultivation and creating a complete protein (essential in the winter when hunting for game was difficult), they were easily preserved for the long winters.
This frittata also includes red peppers and potatoes which the natives of Mexico and the southwest also used in their plantings and cooking. I like using the Peruvian Purple variety, but sometimes they fade from a beautiful deep purple to, well, blue. The corn and squash add a lovely sweetness, and this recipe is so nutritious you feel energized just looking at it! Don’t skimp on the local organic eggs, they will be filled with beta-carotene and nutritious fats which add to the whole. Serve this hot, or at room temperature. It’s all good!
Local is Always Best
Use local ingredients at their peak of freshness. For many weeks in the fall, you will find the fresh corn and beans and squash and peppers all sitting there together, like a happy family, waiting for you to make this recipe, but frozen corn and beans stand in nicely as well at other times of year.
This recipe easily doubles for a large gathering. Cook in your largest skillet until starting to set, then transfer to a 9”by 13” casserole dish and continue as written. It will take longer to cook, just judge by the color and aroma!
“Three Sisters” Baked Frittata
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/3 cup diced sweet onion (about a half a large onion)
1 cup butternut squash, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 cup green beans, cut into one-half-inch segments
1/3 cup finely diced red peppers
1 cup sweet corn, cooked
1 cup purple or red potatoes, diced
1 tbsp. fresh chives, minced
8 local fresh organic free-range eggs
6 ounces extra sharp Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onion in olive oil in a 12-inch enameled or non-stick skillet for two minutes over medium high heat. Add the squash. Let cook for five or six minutes, until squash is starting to cook in the center. You will have to taste to get this timed right. Add red peppers and green beans and cook for another five minutes or so. Stir occasionally, and taste for the green beans to be crisp/tender. While this is cooking, mix up eggs as for a scramble and add salt and pepper, and half the cheese. To the skillet, add corn and chives and mix well, then add the egg mixture. Stir around a bit as the eggs start to set, remove from heat, top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake: put the frittata in a hot oven, 450 degrees, for about 10-15 minutes, until the dish is set, and nicely browned on top. Let set for five minutes, then loosen the edges, run the spatula under it all, and turn out on to a cutting board.
Serve: Cut into six or eight portions, and enjoy, hot or at room temperature. You can cut this into small squares and use as an appetizer at room temperature. If serving as an entrée, all it needs is a simple side salad of frisée greens, topped with hot radishes, and dressed delicately with a simple vinaigrette.
© Copyright 2018 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read