When the temps are soaring outside and the garden is groaning with zucchini and corn it's time to make a big batch of this delicious spin on a 3 sisters salad. Seasonal ingredients and the creamy, vegan dressing make it a great choice as a side for dinner or a main dish for lunch. I often grill the veggies the night before when I'm grilling dinner and store then in the fridge until I'm ready to make the salad.  

What Are The 3 Sisters

The three sisters play a very important roll in Native American culture and foodways. Corn, beans and squash have been planted together and cooked together since ancient times. The beans are planted at the base of the corn, providing a natural trellis, the squash is planted around the corn and beans and the spiny leaves provide protection against predators. The beans in turn give nitrogen back to the soil for her sisters.  

Almost every Native American Nation seems to have its own myths and legends surrounding the three sisters. In each story they are central to our spiritual connection to the earth. My favorite is the legend of the 3 sisters who lived in a field together and loved each other. The eldest was tall and thin with golden hair and a green shawl, the middle sister wandered around the fields, the youngest could only crawl and needed to hold onto someone to stand up. One day in late summer a boy came to the field and they were fascinated with him, that night the youngest disappeared. A few weeks later he returned and this time the middle sister disappeared. The oldest sister was very sad and missed her sisters very much. At harvest time the boy returned and heard her crying so he took her to his home where she was united with her sisters. The sisters had decided to stay with the boy and his family because it was warm in their hut and they had a big pot of soup they were making. The sisters loved the family and dried themselves on a shelf so that they could help feed the family. From that day on, the family was never hungry and the sisters were never separated.

grilled 3 sisters salad


  • 2 Medium Size Zucchini
  • Olive Oil for Grilling
  • 3 Ears of Corn
  • 1 Cup of Dry Beans (Choose beans that hold their shape but have a creamy texture like Tepary Beans, Blue Moro, Grey Dapple, Arikara, Old Indian Woman).
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons of Fresh Lime Juice
  • A Handful of Fresh Cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup of EVOO
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Agave Syrup
  • Ice Water
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Cook the beans with salt, bay leaf or avocado leaf and (optional but recommended) kombu according to our bean cooking guide. (optional) add a dried pepper to the pot for a bit of heat. Once the beans are cooked drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Light the grill and get it very hot. Place the corn directly on the grill with NO OIL. Turn the corn as it roasts on each side. You want a slight char in places. Slice the zucchini in strips, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill. Set the grilled veggies aside to cool. 
  3. To make the dressing, place the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, EVOO, 1 teaspoon of agave syrup and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until it the texture is similar to cake batter, thick and creamy but not too thick. Taste and add more agave if it is too tart.
  4. Cut the corn off the cob and chop the grilled zucchini into bite size squares. Add the cooked beans and combine. Ladle a large spoonful of the dressing onto a plate and pile the salad on top, drizzling with additional dressing and topping with fresh, whole cilantro leaves.

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