As we all know, the Native Americans were much more clever about working with their environment than their Imperialist conquers, especially when it comes to agriculture. Indigenous groups from what is now the United States to what is now Central America planted the Three Sisters: corn, beans and squash.
These ingredients are the perfect partners. The corn stalks provide a structure for the climbing beans to grow on and the prickly squash leaves served as a deterrent to pests and predators. Companion planting something, like corn, which depletes the soil with a nitrogen fixing plant, like beans, to replenish the soil’s nutrients preserves the fertility of the land. Nutritionally speaking, the Three Sisters are also a great team. The corn provides a filling source of starch, the beans provide hearty protein and the squash is packed with great vegetable vitamins and minerals. The Three Sisters are great for us humans and great for the earth we all depend on.
I used the Three Sisters in a yummy and savory hash that would be great for any meal of the day. I stretched out my ingredients with some potatoes and onions to make a big ol’ pan of hash then topped it off with a fried egg. Eggs are one of the few protein sources that contain all of the amino acids we need, all packaged up in a tidy little shell! What a lovely, healthy, vegetarian meal this turned out to be, well, except for my undying affection for bacon grease.
Three Sisters Hash
Serves 4 – cost approx $.82 per serving
- 2 Tbs bacon grease or vegetable oil
- 1 onion, medium dice ($.06)
- 2-3 cups butternut squash, medium dice ($.63)
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 russet potatoes, baked, medium dice ($.30)
- 1 cup frozen corn ($.25)
- 2-3 cups pinto beans, cooked – from 1 cup dried beans ($.50)
- 2 scallions, minced ($.20)
- 1/4 cup parsley, minced
- 1 Tbs chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper – to taste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 3 oz cheddar cheese, shredded or sliced ($.69)
- 4 eggs ($.40)
Preheat the oven to 375 F and grease a 9″x13″ pan. Heat the bacon grease or vegetable oil in a large saute pan and cook the onion and butternut squash for 10 minutes. Next, add the garlic and saute another 5 minutes. Mix the sauteed veggies with the potatoes, corn, beans, scallions, parsley and spices. Pour these goodies into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Top with the cheese and bake another 10 minutes. While the cheese is getting all melty and delicious, fry the eggs in a non stick pan and viola!