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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Fire Roasted Peppers

Last Saturday at our Corvallis Farmers Market many of us were following our noses to a special attraction, flame roasted chiles. A metal mesh roaster was full of peppers turning over a propane flame. The vendor, from Crossroad’s Farm, was filling plastic bags with chiles all carefully labeled.

 

Pepper roasting from Crossroads Farm

The beauty of a tumbler roaster is you can roast many peppers at once. Roasting chars the skin for easy removal, and seems to intensify the flavor without fully cooking the peppers.Roasted Peppers

If you want to try roasting at home on a grill or under a broiler it’s pretty easy. To grill, set close to the flame and use tongs to turn chiles so both sides have blistered slightly charred skin. To oven broil, place peppers on an oiled cookie sheet under a hot broiler and turn with tongs after 4-5 minutes. Cook each side until skin is blistered and slightly blackened. Place 6-8 roasted peppers in ziplock bags, they will sweat and further loosen skins. These store in refrigerator for a week and can be frozen for a year. When ready to use slip off skins, split open and remove seeds. I usually cut off the stem end unless I’m making chile rellenos where the attached stem adds personality.

 

We’ll harvest peppers until frost and tuck several bags in the freezer as pantry food. Use with eggs, in casseroles, quesadillas, rellenos, salsa and countless other dishes where rich roasted peppers add that special flavor.