This week’s recipes pay homage to the Native American peoples who were masters of using the ingredients that they were given. Many cultures planted the “Three Sisters” of corn, beans and squash together. Each plant helps the other to grow. Today we call this companion planting. These three crops were used to make nutritious meals. When eaten together, the amino acids from each are combined to make a complete protein.
As Native Americans were removed from their traditional lands, they had to rely more on the United States government to supply them with foods. These foods were often substandard. As resourceful people, they learned to make do with what they had. Flour, salt, a leavening agent, like baking powder, water and sometimes milk were combined and fried to make a flat bread. This is known as Indian Fry Bread.
Today, we are going to pair the Three Sisters Corn Bean Salad with the Indian Fry Bread. This gives us a fresh tasting Vegan Indian Fry Bread Taco Recipe. Enjoy!
Three Sisters Corn Bean Salad Recipe
1 can sweet corn-drained (I use Green Giant)
1 can black beans-drained and rinsed in a colander (I use Kuner’s)
1 cup coarsely chopped baby zucchini or summer squash (This needs to be a small squash with a tender peel.)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes (In the winter, I use Sunset Campari that I get at Costco)
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped red onion
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped pickled jalapeno slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 ½ lime (about 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice)
2 tablespoons of jalapeno vinegar (from jalapeno slices)
In a large bowl, mix the corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime juice and jalapeno vinegar. Stir to mix. Put the salad in a large refrigerator container. Refrigerate for at least three hours before using to allow the flavors to mix.
Quick Indian Fry Bread Recipe
2 cups white flour
½ cup freshly ground whole wheat flour or substitute ½ whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 to 1 cup water
Put the bread blade into the food processor. I use a Kitchen Aide. Add the white flour, wheat flour, salt, and baking powder to the bowl of the food processor. Turn it on. Slowly add the water through the funnel. Continue processing for a minute. Check to see if the amount of water is correct. It should have started pulling away from the sides. The dough should be somewhat firm, starting to look smooth and not terribly sticky. If it seems dry, add a tablespoon full of water and process for about 30 seconds. If it is too sticky add a tablespoon full of flour and process for about 30 seconds. Keep doing this until the dough is looking smooth and elastic. I processed mine for a total of 3 minutes. It was beautifully elastic and smooth. Be careful if you are not used to processing dough. You don’t want to burn your food processor’s motor out! Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes in the bowl. This will make it easier to shape.
If you choose to not to use a food processor, use a large bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then, add 2/3 cup of water and stir. If it is too dry, continue slowly adding water and stirring until it holds together and is easy to knead. It should not be really sticky, but again, it should not be stiff. Knead for about 15 minutes. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes in the bowl.
Now it’s time to fry the Quick Indian Fry Bread.
Before you start frying, get your plate ready for holding the cooked bread. Use a large heat resistant plate. Cover it with a good quality paper towel. I like Viva. Tear about 6 pieces of paper towel off and set them aside. Have a clean dish towel folded in half. You will use this plate to drain the oil off of the bread and to keep the bread warm until serving.
On a piece of lightly floured waxed paper, take a ball of dough that’s about the size of an egg and pat it flat. You can stretch it or roll it a bit thicker than pie dough. I like to roll mine. Set the rolled dough aside, and roll another one. It helps to have a couple rolled in advance of the frying, since you don’t want to have to turn your oil off to roll more. As you become more skilled, you develop a rhythm and you are able to roll and fry without feeling rushed.
I like to use an iron skillet for the frying. In a heavy skillet, add about one inch of oil. Heat until it is about 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a small piece of dough into the heated oil. It should bubble like crazy.
Carefully add the bread, so that it doesn’t splatter you. Press the bread down into the oil. It should cook 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. It will puff up. When it is brown on one side, gently turn it and cook the other side until it is golden brown. Remove the bread from the oil and put on the plate.
Cover the bread with a piece of paper towel and put the dish towel on top to hold the heat in. As you fry the bread, you remove the dish towel and layer the bread and paper towels. Don’t forget to put the dish towel back on the bread pile after you add your latest Indian Fry Bread creation! You should have 10-12 pieces of fry bread. If you have somebody who needs to watch their carb count, you can make the bread smaller and cook it for less time. When you have a hearty eater in the house, make their bread larger, and cook it for a longer time. Cook one or two pieces at a time. It will take about half an hour, but it is well worth it!
Top the Indian Fry Bread with the Three Sisters Corn Bean Salad. Fold it like a taco, and enjoy! You may want to put some cheese, lettuce and salsa, but it really is not necessary! The salad is intensely flavorful and fresh tasting.
You may want a more substantial meal. Spread the Indian Fry Bread with warm refried beans. Top with cheese and the Three Sisters Corn Bean Salad. Yummy!
If you need another use for the Three Sisters Corn Bean Salad, use it to make a quick lettuce salad. Use about two tablespoons full of the dressing and a quarter cup of the salad to top a bowl of lettuce. It makes a lovely fresh-tasting salad.
I have been hearing about fry bread for years, but never had the courage to make it. However, I had a reader request. So, I turned to my friend, Phyllis, who has a lot of experience in this area. She was the Native American Editor at BellaOnline for many years. Phyllis shared her recipe with me and I tried my own variation. My family loved it! Phyllis says, “Fry bread is a traditional recipe for many Native American tribes and is always served in booths at PowWows. Good stuff!”
If you want to know more about Native American culture and PowWows, visit Jane at the Native American site. Her descriptions of PowWows make you almost feel like you are there. Why don’t you read about them while you eat another piece of Indian Fry Bread?
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