Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings (did I mention how much I love Peter Berley’s recipes?)

I am constantly amazed.  Peter Berley never disappoints.

I will confess that I take a look at some of his recipes and wonder, will this taste good, will it have enough flavour, will EPC like it?  I know I wondered when I made his Root Vegetable Risotto with Red Beans.

Silly me.

Even if I begin cooking with doubts I always end the meal convinced.  Convinced that Peter Berley makes fantastic cookbooks and I am lucky to have one.

I was also convinced by the dumplings.  Before eating this stew I had never had dumplings before.  They are wonderful.  I can’t speak for all dumplings, but corn dumplings made with masa harina are the bee’s knees!  The great thing about corn dumplings is that besides being taste-bud friendly they are also celiac friendly.  I imagine that they eclipse wheat flour dumplings in the way that corn tortillas do flour tortillas.

In fact, EPC figured that the stew could be improved with even more dumplings (the recipe made 18 dumplings!).

Of course he was joking, but I am sure you get the point.

Enough about dumplings and onto the three sisters.

He is not referring to actual sisters, but instead to the three sisters of corn, squash, and beans which make up the cornerstone of Native American Cuisine and are the main components of the recipe.  In the recipe’s introduction he paints an idyllic picture of the cornstalk providing support for the bean tendrils, the large squash leaves spreading over the ground holding in moisture and shading out weeds, all benefiting from the nitrogen that the beans add to the soil.  In addition to agricultural support, the three sisters combine well with thyme and sage to make this delicious stew.

Located in the hearty stew section of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings was a perfect choice for a spring evening meal when the weather seems more like fall or early winter.

Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings

1 cup of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (I soaked them for 3 hours andcooked them in the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water for 20 minutes at high pressure)  You can also use 3 cups of canned pinto beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, washed well and sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (leave a few seeds if you like it spicy)
400 ml of canned crushed tomato
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh sage
2 cups of thinly sliced fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of masa harina
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Get the dumplings underway first:

  • Add masa harina to a medium-sized bowl
  • Bring the water to boil in a small pot.
  • Whisk the olive oil and salt into the boiling water and then pour over the masa harina.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball.
  • Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside

Then get the stew started:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat and add the leeks, carrots, squash, and jalapeno.  Saute for 10 minutes to soften, stirring frequently
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, pour in the beans with their juice (if using canned beans add about 1 cup of water).  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, if needed, to thin the stew.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • While the stew simmers, form the dumplings into bite sized oblong balls. I made about 18 dumplings.
  • Add about 1/2 inch of water to a pot with a steaming basket and stem the dumplings for 8 minutes.
  • To the stew, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add spinach and stir
  • Add the dumplings and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the spinach is cooked through.

Click to print


8 responses to “Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings (did I mention how much I love Peter Berley’s recipes?)

  1. 1. what masa harina did you use? Do you have a recipe?
    2. how can the dough come together when there is just water and salt and oli and masa harina in it?
    What else do you add?

  2. I used Maseca brand – straight from the bag. I got it at Superstore.

    It is different from cornmeal and cornflour.

    I followed the instructions as posted above. Just boiling water,olive oil and salt added to the masa harina. I let it sit covered while I prepared the rest of the stew. It comes together quite quickly.

    I hope that helps 🙂

  3. Hey Kelley,

    I am so happy you enjoy my recipes! I am working on a new book and I love your blog.

    best wishes


  4. mmmmmm we tried this last night!
    Superstore for the Masa Harina?! Silas may have missed it. I did find it at Boca Loca or Salsita, and they were nice enough to sell me just one cup from the back. This was soooo good! Silas melted some cheese on top and then sprinkled some blue corn chips. Definitely a keeper! Thanks Kelley!

  5. Finally added the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen to my collection and I can’t wait to try some recipes from it!

  6. Pingback: Better late than never: the best recipes of 2010 | Cookbook Cooks

  7. I just found your site doing a “maseca dumpling” search on google, and I am soooo thrilled! I love love love this stew and the dumplings. I had to wing it a bit as I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but still-amazing! I am sharing it with everyone I know!

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