Three Sisters Layered Casserole

The tradition of the Three Sisters in Native American Gardening Three sisters casserolerefers to the practice of planting a mound of soil with 5 to 7 corn plants in the center. After the corn grows 6” tall 7-8 beans are planted around the corn which supports the beans. A week later 7 or 8 squash or pumpkin seeds are planted around the outer edge of the mound. The beans provide a nitrogen boost for the corn and the broad squash leaves suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Additionally, the three vegetables form a nutritional compliment.

After buying a few bags of fire roasted chiles at our local farmers market I wanted to make something new and special with them and use up some odd bits in the refrigerator. The result, featuring corn, beans, and squash is reminiscent of both a chile relleno casserole and stacked enchiladas.

6 roasted chiles
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried, crushed oregano
4 corn tortillas, quartered
2 cups grated jack cheese or 1 cup jack & 1 cup cheddar
1 cup cooked, cubed, winter squash
1-2 cups drained black beans
1/2 cup or less diced chicken or meat (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove skins and seeds from roasted chiles, slice lengthwise into 1” strips. Whisk together, eggs, milk, flour, cumin and oregano. Take a 10″ glass pie plate or shallow casserole and lightly oil. Arrange half the tortilla pieces in bottom of casserole. Then lightly layer with half the cheese, ½ the peppers, followed by 1 cup beans and ½ cup cubed squash and all the chicken. Cover with 1/2 egg mixture. Give the dish a gentle shake so ingredients are evenly layered and tortillas begin soaking up egg mixture. Repeat layering beginning with tortilla pieces followed by remaining ingredients. Reserve 1/3 cup of cheese to sprinkle over the top as the last step. Bake on middle shelf in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Serves 6.
My beans were seasoned with salt, onions and garlic so I did not include salt, you may wish to add ¼ teaspoon.

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2 Responses

  1. Sounds scumptuous. If you want to know more about the three sisters, check out this publication a friend and coworker wrote: http://dspace.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/3621/2/Three+Sisters+-+Exploring+an+Iroquois+Garden.pdf

  2. I just read the pamphlet, full of information. I knew the Three Sisters combination was planted in the Northeast, but I find the planting scheme differs from my understanding of what is practiced in the Southwest. Thank you for directing me to this site, your friends did a nice piece of research and curriculum development.
    Do try the recipe, we’ve had it twice this week as I worked out the ingredient amounts.

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