Three Sisters Casserole
This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on the Vegetarian Times website. I’ve bumped up the seasonings quite a bit and added a few other ingredients.
A Native American expression, “three sisters” refers to the practice of growing beans corn, and squash together.
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal or polenta* see note below
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon herbs d’Provence
¾ tsp. salt
2-½ to 3-1/2 cups No-Chicken vegetable broth or chicken broth** see note below
2 cups milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk** see note below
4 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
Optional: 4 oz cheese grated: I like fontina, fontal, asiago, manchego, parmesan or cheddar in this
*You can purchase both organic cornmeal and organic polenta.
While they are pretty much the same thing, the organic polenta I have found on the market is a finer grain than cornmeal and the finished product is softer and creamier.
**Depending on the brand, polenta can cook much more quickly than cornmeal – so make sure to read the directions.
If you have quick cooking polenta prepare the filling first.
The term polenta refers to both the raw, dry ground grain (corn) and the finished dish.
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
1 lb. kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (2 cups)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced – optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
½ cup water, vegetable stock or chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed or 2 cups your own cooked pinto beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Reminder: if you are using quick cooking polenta prepare the filling first.
Using a 2-quart pot, whisk together cornmeal/polenta, chili powder, herbs d’Provence, sea salt, 2½ cups water and 2 cups milk. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring regularly then reduce the heat a bit and continue to stir often. Cook for up to 40 minutes (unless you are using a quick cooking variety of polenta), or until polenta is thick and stiff.
Remove from heat and add the butter or Earth Balance and, if using ,the cheese. Stir well to combine ingredients.
While the polenta is cooking make the filling.
Make the filling
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, and cook 10 minutes, until softened, rich and creamy, stirring often.
Add the bell pepper, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.
Stir in squash, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove.
Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup either water, chicken broth or vegetable broth and salt.
Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes, or until squash is tender.
Stir in the beans and corn, and cook 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
Coat 9 x 12-inch baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Spread approximately 1-1/2 cups polenta over bottom of prepared dish.
If you have an offset spatula that is the best tool to use to spread the polenta.
Spread the filling over the polenta. Smooth the remaining polenta over top.
Using a pastry brush, brush 1 tablespoon or so olive oil over the top of the polenta.
Bake 30 minutes, or until heated through and top is lightly browned.
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