Different Types of Beans with Three Sisters Mash Recipe

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Beans are high in protein and can be used in a variety of dishes.
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"The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen" by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley introduces readers to modern indigenous cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories by sharing award-winning recipes and stories.

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), by Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley introduces readers to modern cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. The book shares award-winning recipes that embrace locally sourced and seasonal, “clean” ingredients. The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, “Fields and Gardens.”

You can purchase this book from the Heirloom Gardener store:The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.

Dried beans are the backbone of Native cuisine. High in protein, they add body and substance to soups, stews, and salads. When pureed, they become a soft dough for fritters, burgers, and croquettes. Here’s a quick look at just a few of the different varieties.

Bean Varieties


Small, purple and white heirloom beans from Mesa Verde, Colorado; quick cooking.


Small, spotted black and white, sometimes called Dalmatian; creamy.

Arikara Yellow

Tan bean with a red eye, very creamy texture and mild flavor.


Large, white or purplish from New Mexico; very earthy.

Black Turtle

With their meaty texture and distinct flavor, these beans are perfect for hearty soups and stews.

Great Northern

Larger than navy; creamy and tender.

Hidatsa Shield Figure

Named for the Hidatsa tribe and described in Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden. A beautiful pale-cream bean with gold saddle, this cooks up to be creamy and delicate.

Jacob’s Cattle:

American heirloom, kidney-shaped and cream-colored with red splashes; delicate and mild tasting.


Also known as butter beans, kidney-shaped and great in succotash; very quick cooking.


Small, round, and white that swell dramatically when cooked; creamy and mild.


Small and white, they hold their shape when cooked.


Split green and yellow peas cook quickly and are great for soup.


Pinker pintos.


Most popular in the Southwest.

Red and Black Nightfall

Heirloom beans with mild flavor.


Tiny, earthy, and quick cooking.

Rio Zape

From Rancho Gordo, brown and purple; meaty tasting.


Aztec, Giant Pinto, and others. Big beans that swell to twice their size; need slow and careful cooking.


Kidney-shaped, pink with a white cap; sharp tasting.


Old New England heirlooms, one of the original baked bean beans.

Southern Peas

Black-eyed peas are most common. Mild and earthy.


Native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico, they’re small and gray, white, or brown; need a long cooking time, and their flavor is earthy and pronounced.

What about canned beans? Canned beans are convenient and can save the day in a pinch. The best are natural foods brands such as Eden Foods.

Three Sisters Mash Recipe

Wagmíza na Omní?a na Wagmú Pat?á?pi

This easy side dish makes good use of leftovers; serve it with roast meat or fish; top it with a poached or fried egg for brunch.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 wild onion or large shallot, chopped
  • 1 small summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup Cedar-Braised Beans
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup cooked hominy
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • Generous pinch smoked salt


  1. Film a large skillet with the oil and set over medium heat.
  2. Cook the onion or shallot until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and continue cooking until tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the beans, corn, and hominy and cook until the corn is bright and tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the maple syrup, sage, and mint.
  6. Season with the smoked salt.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chef’s Note: To prepare hominy or dried corn, soak in water to cover overnight. Drain and turn into a pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Set over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the kernels are tender, 10 to 25 minutes. Drain and proceed with the recipe.

More from The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen:

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