Invite the 3 Sisters to your holiday table

Yankee Chef logoBy Jim Bailey

This is such a superb and original New England side dish, many of your family and friends won’t want to share. But each half is plenty for two people.

The Native Americans had a name for the three important vegetables they lived on and showed the new colonists how to grow. Squash, beans and corn were known as the Three Sisters and, when cooked together, this dish was known as Succotash. I have tweaked the Succotash a bit here, especially when you see prepared beans below.

This was a perfect addition because of the sweet, molasses-based sauce they are canned with. But use your favorite canned baked beans here. It’s a perfect compliment only to your holiday table.


threesistersbakedsquash1/2 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 acorn squashes
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1/4 cup diced apple
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1/4 cup lima beans
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup prepared baked beans
Gingerbread roasted squash seeds, recipe below

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and membrane with a spoon, leaving at least an inch and a half of the flesh all around.

Place the seeds and membrane in a bowl with cold water and set aside. Cut a sliver off the rounded side of each half so that it stands erect on a baking pan. Whisk together apple jelly and butter in a small bowl and drizzle, or brush, the inside of each squash. Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until desired doneness. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Toss to combine and cook until vegetables are softened, but still firm. Remove from heat and add corn, apple, lima beans, baked beans and cheese, mixing well.

Evenly divide among prepared squash and loosely cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, this will be the halfway point. Remove from the oven, remove foil and top each with equal amounts of prepared seeds*. Return to the oven and continue baking an additional 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender, but not too soft. Remove from oven to serve immediately.

*To make Gingerbread Roasted Squash Seeds, agitate the seeds in the water, pulling the membrane off the seeds and dry in paper towels. Add to a small bowl with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, mixing to evenly coat. Roast in a 275-degree F oven for 15 minutes.

NOTE: Many people will not first peel the squash for fear it will soften to the point where everything will seep out. This will not happen if not overcooked. A vegetable peeler works well on acorn squash except when you come to the crevices in the skin. For that, use a paring knife or simply peel the entire squash with a paring knife, making sure you only take off the green rind and don’t pierce the flesh into the cavity where all the seeds are.

Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania has released Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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