Three Sisters Gratin – Try This Southwest Take on the Classic French Dish


Three Sisters Gratin

Why should French cooks have all the fun? I love gratins – especially in the fall – and make them with potatoes and root veggies. But. Why not a gratin with a southwest twist?

I have always loved using the “three sisters” in my cooking. The combination of beans, corn and squash is credited with helping our indigenous peoples survive because they were great “companion crops,” and grew together in synergy, a crucial thing in the southwestern United States, where rain was scarce. Renee’s Garden can even tell you how to grow them together for next summer’s garden.

There is a legend which is told among native peoples about the Three Sisters, which you can print out and read to your family. How fun! And, hey!, how many foods have their own legend?

And, equally important, they taste wonderful together. I decided a “Three Sisters Gratin” was in order. So, remember that beans and rice are not the ONLY southwest side dishes – try a flavorful gratin for your next family dinner.



Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet. Drain 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans and add to skillet. Mash beans with a potato masher until very smooth. Add in 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce. Spread in bottom of an 8 by 8 square pan.


Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Add 1/2 diced onion, 4 10-inch zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inch thick, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and pulp removed and thinly sliced, salt and pepper to taste. Saute over medium heat until veggies are soft. Spread on top of bean layer.


Heat in a large skillet 1 tablespoon butter and add to skillet 1 minced serrano chile and  1 1/2 cups corn kernels, sauteing over medium high heat until softened. Add in 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir and simmer until very thick, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add in 1 cup cotija cheese, grated. Spread mixture on top of zucchini layer.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese on top.

Bake at top of oven for 20 minutes or so, until bubbly and cheese is beginning to brown.

Other yummy gratins I can’t wait to make:
Broccoli Swiss Parmesan Gratin, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Onion Gratin with Rosemary and Thyme, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin, A Veggie Venture
Green Tomato Gratin, No Recipes
Fennel and Tomato Gratin, Nami Nami
Spaghetti Squash and Mushroom Gratin, Stephen Cooks
Butternut Squash Parmesan Gratin, Cookin’ Canuck
Cauliflower and Chard Gratin, Healthy Delicious
Cauliflower Gratin, My Columbian Recipes

— posted by Donna

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