nutritional information

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 304
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Total Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 52 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 830 mg
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
Vegan Gluten-Free

Three Sisters Casserole

Three Sisters Casserole

Serves 6

A Native American expression, "three sisters" refers to the practice of growing beans, corn, and squash together. This filling casserole can be frozen for an upcoming party or made fresh for dinner. Serve with Pumpkin Seed Pesto.
Polenta Topping
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 1 lb. kabocha squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1. To make Polenta Topping: Whisk together cornmeal, chili powder, salt, and 4½ cups water in double boiler, or in large metal bowl over barely simmering water. Cook 40 minutes, or until polenta is thick and stiff, stirring 3 or 4 times. Remove from heat.

2. To make Filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 7 minutes, or until softened, stirring often. Add bell pepper, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.

3. Stir in squash, tomatoes, garlic, coriander, and cumin. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup water and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, partially covered, 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash is tender. Stir in beans and corn, and cook 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

4. Coat 8- x 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 2 cups polenta over bottom of prepared dish. Spoon squash mixture over polenta. Smooth remaining polenta (about 2½ cups) over top.

5. Score casserole into 6 squares with knife. Brush top with remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Bake 30 minutes, or until heated through and top is lightly browned.

November/December 2006 p.61

you might also like


I added a cup of TVP to the filling to make it a bit more substantial, and didn't notice any flavor change from it. If I make it again I'll probably do what others did and use cornbread instead of polenta -- I made it from scratch following the recipe exactly and it was my least favorite part of this. Alternately, you could use mashed potatoes and make this like a version of Shepherd's Pie. Worth playing around with though and making it your own.

yourmom - 2016-01-02 04:44:09

Loved it! My husband said this turned out great, although I subbed acorn squash as that's all i had. I will say peeling it was tough so I'll look for the kabocha squash next time. I was testing recipes for our holiday dinner and I think this will definitely be added to the menu.

Kimt - 2015-12-21 02:42:25

I made this dish last night for dinner. We are a vegetarian household, so I am always looking for different dishes to make. I enjoyed this. The only thing I did not care for was the polenta. I made it from scratch. I used acrorn squash. This is the type of dish you can definiately, tweak the spices.

Rebecca Egan -Nunez - 2014-03-25 16:52:55

this is the recipe

kirsten rabaut - 2013-11-17 01:44:26

Excellent dish! Plan to serve this at Thanksgiving for vegetarian/gluten free friends. I used ready-made polenta and sliced it thin. Also broiled the top for 2 minutes at the very end. For lots of flavor use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes with chiles.

Sue Goree - 2013-11-11 23:03:38

Love this. We also cheat with cornbread mixture and pre-cut butternut squash. Makes it a really fast, easy recipe. It was a big hit on Thanksgiving.

Rachael - 2013-01-15 17:31:27

I liked the filling and I love polenta but not for this dish. I made it a second time and had it with my favorite corn bread. Delicious. I am making it for the fourth time today ummmm

Rudie Hansbro - 2012-11-24 17:44:16

Outstanding dish! Good to know you don't need to peel the kabocha squash -- that was hard! I used prepared polenta this time so too much salt for me, but I left out salt and only used a very small amount of oil on the bottom of the baking pan, water-sauteed the onions and other ingredients. Came out very well. Next time I'll make my polenta from scratch and not peel the squash.

Lisa Bentz - 2012-10-27 04:47:41

Loved this! Family loved this, too! For dietary reasons, I left out the salt and only used a very tiny bit of oil to coat the baking pan, and water-sauteed the onions and other ingredients. I'm glad to hear you don't have to peel the kabocha squash because it was tough to peel. I'll make it without peeling it next time. I had to use pre-made polenta this time (so there was more salt than I should have in it) but I'll make it from scratch next time. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

Lisa B - 2012-10-27 04:33:19

Hmm. Just tried to comment earlier so apologies if this is the second time I'm saying this but fyi NO NEED to peel Kabocha squash (or delicata, either, if that's what you happen to have). One of the major advantages of Kabocha is that the skin cooks quickly and is edible and delicious, so there's no reason to spend time on removing it. Just sayin.....

Lydia Chaudhry - 2012-10-22 01:49:04

There is a typo in the first section of instructions (1). Could you clarify.

Eileen Reich - 2012-10-17 13:46:05

Mary - That is formatting that went wrong. I think it should read "and a half".

Ali - 2012-10-16 22:35:54

1. To make Polenta Topping: Whisk together cornmeal, chili powder, salt, and 4 ½ Stir in &frac12 (about 2 ½ cups) What is the &frac12 suppose to be?

Mary - 2012-10-07 01:23:58

This casserole was delicious. I used acorn squash instead of kabocha since that's what was on hand, and I also cooked the polenta according to the box directions instead of using a double boiler. Add a tiny bit of lime juice to the filling for a little extra zest. I also added a little bit of cheese to the top and then baked it. SUPER TASTY!

Kelsey - 2011-12-08 13:25:10

I made this last year for Thanksgiving and my meat loving family enjoyed it so much they asked me to make it again for Christmas. I changed up the squash to what was available and it is always yummy. Making it again this year with a mix of acorn and butternut squash.

Genny - 2011-11-23 20:44:40