THREE SISTERS DUMPLINGS
These dumplings are named for the indigenous agricultural tradition of growing corn, beans, and squash together, primarily known from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations. The plants thrive in this symbiotic relationship, also known as interplanting—the corn provides a stalk for the beans, the beans fix nitrogen to help fertilize the soil, and the squash shades the ground, reducing weed growth and preserving moisture. These dumplings nod to indigenous agriculture and the indigenous peoples of the Northeast region and underscore the importance of farming that is holistic and supports a healthy soil and ecosystem.
Note: We make this with a whole butternut squash. Once a cup has been set aside for the dumplings (usually about one-quarter of a 2-pound/900-g squash), we recommend checking out Mei and Irene Li’s Food Waste Feast website to find cool ways to use the remaining squash. If using precut chunks, the recipe requires about 1/2 pound squash; toss in olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt before roasting for 25 to 30 minutes.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH MASH
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds/900 g)
1 tablespoon (2 g) kosher salt
1/4 cup (60 g) water
3/4 cup (130 g) cooked black beans; if canned, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup (120 g) corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
Leaves from 2 to 3 thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 tablespoons (26 g) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tablespoon (1 g) kosher salt
1 recipe Hot Water Dough (see Hot Water Dough blog post) or 24 store-bought dumpling wrappers
Neutral oil, such as canola, for cooking
Soy Aioli or Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce, for serving (both recipes can be found in our Double Awesome Chinese Food Cookbook)
MAKE THE SQUASH
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C)
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the top and bottom off the squash, then stand it upright and slice it lengthwise down the middle. Scoop out and discard the seeds, then place the two halves cut-side up in a baking dish. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Pour the water into the base of the pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes, or until you can easily slide a fork into the largest part of the squash. Cool, then scoop out 1 cup (200 g) of the flesh and reserve the rest for other uses. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
MAKE THE FILLING
Combine the beans, corn, thyme, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add the reserved 1 cup squash, the oil, and salt and mix thoroughly. Taste for seasoning, then follow the instructions for rolling and cooling dumplings (see Dumpling Making blog post).
Serve with the soy aioli or the soy vinegar dressing sauce as a vegan option.
Makes about 24 dumplings.
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