Three sisters corn, bean & blue ballet burgers

Burgers Members of my favourite crop family have been sprawling recklessly out of the UBC Farm’s  fields and greenhouse this autumn. In order to make a dent in the smatterings of gourds decorating our living rooms, this has prompted us to find creative dishes that spotlight the uniqueness of each winter squash variety we grow (please stay tuned for a dessert post on coconut-lime hubba hubba hubbard pudding!). This recipe was named after the practice of companion-planting corn, beans and squash together, which is a well-known agricultural tradition of numerous Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Although it’s been a little disconcerting to look out into the fields and see freshly tilled and cover-cropped soil rather than leafy greens, the abundance of squash piles ease the inevitable sense of loss at the end of the growing season. From a food security perspective, winter squashes are particularly awesome because they can be stored for months without refrigeration. Their rich orangeness always strikes me as a potent symbol of prosperity (and perhaps a more honest currency than that which underpins our frail industrial economic system).

Musical inspiration (on my Mum’s recommendation): Josh Pyke’s cover of “The Summer.”

Three sisters blue ballet burgers

Makes 8 burger patties.

    • 3 cups cooked black beans (= 1.5 cups dry beans soaked overnight)
    • 2.5 cups baked, peeled, and mashed squash (“Blue Ballet” hubbard works well because of its dryness and density)
    • 1/2 cup polenta (cornmeal)
    • 1/8 cup canola oil, plus 2 Tbsp for frying
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 2 tsp coriander
    • 1 tsp cayenne

In a large bowl, use a potato masher to smash about 1/3 of the beans, leaving the remaining beans intact. Combine with the squash, polenta, lime, oil and spices. Form about 8 fist-sized balls from the mixture.

Heat canola oil in a wide cast iron frying pan on medium-high heat. Flatten 3 burger patties into the frying pan at once, and fry for several minutes on each side until browned.

Enjoy with dear friends and serve with buns, lettuce, green tomato salsa and fried fut sao gwa as a side dish.


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