Three Sisters Polenta

This recipe was inspired by a combination of Vegan Yum Yum‘s “Carmelized Leek and Spaghetti Squash Polenta with White Sauce,” Rebar Modern Food‘s “Three Sisters Burrito,” and my desire to eat polenta with tomato sauce and spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, simultaneously.  It basically consists of polenta infused with spaghetti squash, covered with slightly spicy bean and tomato sauce.

Three sisters, corn (well, maize), squash and beans, are the staples of a number of indigenous nations in North America, and one of my favourite food combinations.  Ever since tasting Rebar’s delicious burrito, I’ve become pretty obsessed with adding southwest spices to the mix.  This recipe would probably do amazingly with some roasted poblano chillies thrown into the sauce, or even maybe some chipotle puree.  I was worried about adding too much spice, because I didn’t want to drown out the taste of the spaghetti squash, but I think everything can be improved with poblano.


  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved with the seeds removed
  • 1 med sized onion, diced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 tbs chili powder (spice measurements are all guesstimates)
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbs tex-mex mixed seasoning (I use Club House, or just add more of the chili and paprika)
  • few shakes of crushed red pepper
  • few shakes of black pepper
  • 1 tbs molasses
  • 4 1/2 cups water or broth (or water with a bouillon cube)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn meal


Begin by  cutting, cleaning and cooking the squash. This takes a while, so you can prep and cook the rest of the meal while waiting for the squash to cook. I microwaved in on high, in a little water for about 15 minutes, but you can also bake it or boil it (although, if you boil it, don’t cut it in half first, just pierce holes all over it).  You know it’s done when the flesh is soft – you’ll be able to feel it through the rind.

While the squash is cooking, dice your onion and caramelize it in a large pan on med-low heat (I use cast iron). Once your onions are soft and browned, add spices and after a minute the can of tomatoes (you don’t want to burn the spices).  Drain your cans and beans and add. Stir, add molasses, and let simmer on low heat.  Taste and adjust spices as necessary.

Add your water/broth/water with bouillon to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking the whole time to avoid chunks. Continue to whisk over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes. You want the cornmeal to cook, but not get too thick – a good indication is when it lightens and looks more uniform. Remove from heat, but keep covered so it stays warm.

Cut each half of your squash into quarters lengthwise, and use a fork to scrape the ‘spaghetti’ strands into a bowl. Add the strands to the polenta and stir.  Serve polenta in bowls, with the beans over top.

Apologies for not getting a photo – hunger got the best of me. And the leftovers don’t look that pretty sitting in Tupperware.

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