Three Sisters Recipes

Last fall, the Creation Justice Team sponsored a community reading of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Readers enjoyed the book’s description of “The Three Sisters,” an indigenous practice where corn, beans and squash are grown in the same space. The corn stalks create a structure for the beans to climb, the beans provide the soil with nitrogen for the other plants, and the spreading of the squash keeps weeds down. (This article explains in more detail.)

This fall, we encouraged people to create meals with corn, beans, and squash. Below are four recipes that people shared with us:

  1. Baked Squash with Cranberries (photo 1)
  2. Kale, Carrot, Corn, and Bean Salad (photo 2)
  3. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (photo 3)
  4. Three Sisters Chili

For more, see this Pinterest page shared by Pam Chappell, who recommends the Three Sisters Salad.

Baked Squash with Cranberries and Pineapple 

Provided by Debra Carr [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 can (8.5 oz.) crushed pineapple — drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter –  and more for greasing
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Cranberries – or arils from 1 pomegranate
    (pomegranate is in the photo)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with softened butter.  
  3. Halve the acorn squash. Remove the seeds and save them for roasting. 
  4. Cut the squash into wedges and line up the wedges on the prepared pan. 
  5. Evenly sprinkle brown sugar over the squash, then season it with salt and pepper. 
  6. Spoon crushed pineapple over the squash wedges,
    allowing the pineapple to fill the cavity of the squash wedges,
    as the remaining pineapple gathers around the squash.
  7. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until just browned. Butter will melt, foam and froth, then begin to brown along the bottom. Remove from heat.  
  8. Whisk the browned bits of butter off the bottom of the pan. 
  9. Whisk in the cinnamon, chili powder + pepper. 
  10. Pour the butter over the squash, using hands to rub all over the squash. 
  11. Cover, place in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove cover and roast for another 20-30 minutes,
    until the squash is tender and caramelized.
  13. Rinse the acorn squash seeds and pat them dry.
  14. Toss them with 1 tbsp. olive oil, then add salt and pepper. 
  15. Roast them in the oven at 400° for 10 minutes until golden brown and toasted.
  16. Sprinkle the squash with Cranberries or pomegranate arils and toasted acorn squash seeds (recipe below). Serve warm.

Debra notes, “Using one acorn squash, I halved the ‘sauce’ recipe & added extra cinnamon and chili powder.  All turned out very, very good!”

Debra also recommends this Easy Three Bean Salad recipe.

Kale, Carrot, Corn, and Bean Salad

Provided by Sue Scott and Larry Fuerst [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]


  • 1  egg yolk
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 2 T capers chopped
  • 1 T caper liquid
  • 1-2 smashed & minced garlic cloves 
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 C corn
  • 1 can of beans of your choice
  • 1-2 carrots thinly sliced or grated
  • Sliced red pepper
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 T chopped herbs-your choice


  1. In bowl whisk yoke with mustard. While whisking, drizzle olive oil in slowly. Whisk until oil is incorporated and the mixture is thick.
  2. Whisk in capers, caper liquid, garlic & lemon juice. Season w/ salt for flavor.
  3. In another larger bowl, combine all vegetables & herbs.
  4. Add dressing & toss. Allow to sit for 10 min. or so & serve! 
  5. If wanted, a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar is nice mixed in. 

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Provided by Denny Babel [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]


  • 1 large (3-4 lbs.) spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (salt & pepper taste, plus more for squash)
  • 12 oz. cottage cheese  (or fresh ricotta)
  • ½  cup grated pecorino cheese (or romano or parmesan)
  • ½  cup fresh basil, packed then chopped (or baby spinach)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 23-oz. jar of marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 400º and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise using a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds
  3. Brush the interior with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Place cut-side up on baking sheet & roast for 45 min. or until a knife easily pierces the skin and flesh.
  5. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Reduce oven heat to 375º
  7. Add all remaining ingredients (except mozzarella) to a bowl then mix well.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more herbs, salt, and pepper for flavor
  9. Once fully baked, use a fork to scoop out spaghetti squash in fine strings. Set aside.
  10. Layer 1/3 of the squash strands, then cheese mixture, then marinara sauce into the two empty squash shells
  11. Repeat layers until all squash strings, filling and marinara are used up —about 3 layers— making sure that the top layer is sauce. 
  12. Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella as a final topping.
  13. Return the filled squash shells to the baking sheet and loosely cover with foil.
  14. Bake for about 20 min at 375º.
  15. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 min, until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
    (Note: Cover with foil again if you see that the squash is browning too quickly.)
  16. Let cool briefly, then serve.

Best when fresh. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in a 350º oven for 20-25 min. or until completely warmed through.

Denny notes, “It’s a healthy and flavorful meal that’s perfect for fall & winter!”

Three Sisters Chili

Provided by Ruth Vanden Bosch [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]


  • 2 # boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can Chicken broth
  • !/3 C of sour cream as garnish
  • 1 butternut squash cut into 4-inch cubes to make 1 1/2 cups of squash
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro
  • 1 cup of corn, frozen kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of green beans, frozen and cut
  • 2 Jalapeno peppers (medium) chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1  large can of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Brown the pork shoulder in the canola oil.
  2. Remove from the pan.
  3. Add the minced garlic and onions. 
  4. Saute until onions are translucent.
  5. Place pork shoulder, garlic, and onions in a slow cooker
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and spice – except flour, water, and sour cream.
  7. Cook for 8 hours or until the pork is fork-tender.
  8. Mix the flour and water together as a paste, then use it to thicken the chili.

Garnish with sour cream, tortilla chips, chopped green onions, and cheddar cheese.

Ruth notes, “It’s delicious and serves 8 people.”

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