Three Sisters Succotash

Uh'Be'Ka'Yad'Un'Na', Alex Seowtewa


The Three Sisters (squash, maize, and beans) are the three main agricultural crops of some Native American groups in North America.

The Tewa and other Southwest tribes often included a “fourth sister” known as “Rocky Mountain bee plant”, which attracts bees to help pollinate the beans and squash.

Succotash (from Narragansett msíckquatash, “boiled corn kernels”) is a food dish consisting primarily of corn and Lima beans or other shell beans. Other ingredients may be added, including tomatoes, green and sweet red peppers, and possibly including pieces of cured meat or fish.

Using local ingredients and flavors of the Southwest, my variation attempts to honor the spirit of these important food traditions..

Roast white and yellow corn and carrots in a heavy skillet with some good animal fat such as bison or bear if you can get it, or beef marrow or pork belly if you can’t.  Cook until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add Lima or other beans, wild onions or leeks and summer squash, filtered water or bone broth and a fresh chili if you like, and simmer partially covered until beans are tender, perhaps 20 minutes.

Season with salt and smoked pepper and garnish with fried squash blossoms and toasted pumpkin seeds.


This post is part of Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays

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11 thoughts on “Three Sisters Succotash

  1. MMmm… fantastic. Was it as savory as it looks? Where your lima beans, canned, frozen or dried? What kind of bean would make a good substitute? Last week Quinn declared that he hates lima beans when I put them in a casserole.

    • Bright, savory, and meltingly unctuous. The scales will fall from your eyes and you will breathe anew 🙂

      Definitely use fresh if you can get them, otherwise use frozen baby limas (not the large Fordhooks). Dry beans are fine, too- Christmas Lima, Yellow Indian Woman, Anasazi or Vaquero are good choices.

      For the kids, try simmering fresh or frozen baby Limas in milk and butter with lots of S&P. Limas are properly cooked when they hold their shape but mash under light pressure.

    • Thanks, Millie!

      I was standing there looking at all the amazing things in my local basket this week; summer squash and blossoms, sweet corn and purple carrots, and heirloom tomatoes, onions and all kinds of peppers from my container garden.  And then I saw those stunning Zuni paintings– it all just came together in the power of a moment.

  2. Pingback: The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, & Squash «

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