Three Sisters' Stew with Bannock
Why I Love This Recipe
FEATURING: Butternut squash (or pumpkin), onion, garlic, sweet pepper (optional),and jalapeno (optional). Cilantro and/or arugula (or kale) for serving is also optional).
This is a hearty traditional stew that combines squash, corn and beans (aka. the "three sisters" that many indigenous communities planted together to make them grow stronger while also being very nourishing when eaten together). It is a great summer/Thanksgiving stew. We like to serve this stew with bannock as that is also how we often eat it at Pow Wows in Anishnaabe communities around here! The bannock recipe shared with the stew is one that three generations of women (Barbara, Elizabeth and Aria) from Kitigan Zibi kindly posted in 2018 on Youtube in the spirit of sharing and reconciliation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qeah1kZiE3w. Enjoy!
Ingredients You'll Need
FOR THE STEW
1 small pumpkin or 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper cut into short narrow strips (optional)
14- to 16- ounce diced tomatoes with liquid
2 to 3 cups cooked or canned drained and rinsed pinto (or black) beans
2 cups corn kernels from 2 large or 3 medium ears, or frozen
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/2 jalapeño seeded and minced, or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder or mesquite seasoning or more, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
A few handfuls of chopped arugula (or kale) (optional)
FOR THE BANNOCK
2 cups of flour
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Oil for frying (you will need enough oil to cover the 1 inch bannock balls)
FOR THE STEW
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove stem from the pumpkin or squash and cut in half lengthwise. Place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. If your knives aren't sharp enough, just wrap the pumpkin or squash in foil and bake it whole. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until you can pierce through with a knife, with a little resistance.
When cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds and fibers (clean the seeds for roasting, if you'd like). Slice and peel, then cut into large dice.
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Add the pumpkin or squash and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through as needed. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro (or parsley) and/or arugula (or kale), if using. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve in bowls. Serve with bannock (optional).
FOR THE BANNOCK
While the stew is cooking, prepare the bannock.
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and add water. Mix well with your hands.
Put a bit of flour on a clean counter. Divide the dough to make 1 inch balls that you will roll onto the floured clean counter.
Put the frying oil in a frying pot. Heat up oil on medium-high. When the oil is hot and begins to bubble and make popping sounds, add a few bannock balls in the oil (be careful not to burn yourself and also make sure not to put too many, you don't want the balls to touch when they cook).
Using a fork, turn the bannock balls as they cook in the oil frequently (ex: every 30 sec. or so).
When the bannock balls are golden, take them out and give them time to drain on a cooling rack over a plate (or on a paper towel) a few minutes. Then place on a clean plate and cover with a clean mixing bowl to keep the heat while other bannock balls cook.
Repeat with the other balls. Voilà!