Sign In
Sign Up Now

Three Sisters Tomatillo Enchiladas, and Little Gems Salad with Radish and Pepitas

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
image for Recipe schema

Let Your Friends Try This Recipe!

Why we love it:

The “three sisters” is a classic Mexican and Native American farming technique that refers to planting corn, squash, and beans together. When grown together, they help each other thrive by providing structure, replenishment, and shade respectively. It seems obvious to enjoy them on your plate together too!


  • 16 ounces Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa - often called salsa verde, just make sure its not with avocado)
  • 1 cup Stock (chicken or vegetarian)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 15-ounce can Black Beans (drained)
  • 2 Zucchinis (green or yellow, small dice)
  • 2 cups Fresh Corn Kernels (sliced from the cob)
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese (shredded from a block or pre-shredded)
  • 16 Corn Tortillas (the standard size - 6” round)
  • 3 heads Little Gem Romaine (2-3 little gem romaine or 1 large “regular” romaine)
  • 1 cup Pepitas (roasted/salted)
  • 2 Radishs (sliced in thin rounds)
  • 1 Lime (zest and juice)
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced), optional
  • 14 teaspoon Honey (optional)
  • 12 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 12 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (extra virgin)

Cooking Instructions

  • 2. SAUCE

    Buzz the salsa in a blender on pulse for about 30 seconds to smooth it out a bit. Add the stock, 1 teaspoon of cumin and flour, then pulse another 15 seconds to combine. Meanwhile, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter over medium high heat in a small pot, then whisk in the sauce. Whisk occasionally while you prep the veggies, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure nothing sticks. After about 6-8 minutes, the sauce should be boiling and thickened up just a bit. Turn off the heat and let it hang out until you’re ready for it.


    Meanwhile, prep the filling. Open the beans, drain and rinse them in the sink. Let the water drip off while you chop the squash. Wash them, and trim just the tiny woody end off. Slice into 1/4” thick planks, then stack and cut into sticks. Turn 90 degrees and slice the sticks into even small cubes. Shuck the corn and wash off the silk threads, then slice the kernels off the cob. A way to do this neatly is to stand the ear up in the center of a large bowl. From about ¾ of the way up the ear, carefully slice down to the bottom, taking care not to smash your knife into the bottom of the bowl. Turn and repeat on all sides. Then, flip the ear over and trim the last ¼ of the rows off. The bowl should catch any kernels that might have scattered about.

  • 4. SAUTE

    In a large saute pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the zucchini and the teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes until they’re becoming tender and picking up just a bit of color. Add the remaining teaspoon of cumin, the corn and the beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

  • 5. CHEESE

    If needed, grate the cheese on a box grater or food processor.

  • 6. ROLL

    Heat the corn tortillas in 4 stacks of 4 in the microwave for 15 seconds, or place them in the oven for about 1 minute.

    Prep your station by laying out a piece of parchment, a clean cutting board, or a rimmed baking sheet. Also, bring your cheese, sauce, and sauteed filling. Set aside about 3/4 cup of cheese, a loose handful. Finally, set up a landing place - a 9x13 baking dish. Take a look at your filling and cheese - mentally or physically with a spatula - divide it into 4 even piles. Each pile will fill 4 tortillas.

    Spoon ½ cup of sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.

    Dip a slightly warm tortilla into the sauce and turn to coat. Lay it down on the baking sheet or prep space. Then repeat with 3 more tortillas so you have 4 sauced and ready to go. (If you can’t fit 4 on your work space, do fewer at a time, but the point is not to do it one by one if you can make it work). Fill each tortilla with the Three Sisters filling and top with cheese. Move the filling to the bottom 3rd of the tortilla and spread it out into a thin log shape running the length of the tortilla, almost to both edges. Roll and tuck the bottom of the tortilla up over the filling and roll it into shape. Place, seam side down in the pan.

    Repeat until you’re done and the pan is full.


    Sometimes when you roll, the top will crack a little. You can fix this by warming the tortillas a little more, or coating them with more sauce, or rolling them more loosely. Also, when you place them in the pan, the first few might want to unroll. You can have someone else gently hold them in place until the pan is full, or lay a spatula over the top of them which will give just enough weight to keep them in place.

  • 8. TOP + BAKE

    Spoon the rest of the sauce over the top of the rolled enchiladas. Then top them with the cheese - keep the cheese running down the center of each tortilla roll, rather than evenly spread out for a nice presentation.

    Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

  • 9. SALAD

    Smash and mince the garlic clove finely. In a small jar (or bowl) add the lime zest and juice, a good pinch of salt, the dijon, and honey and garlic if using. Place a lid on the jar and shake well (or whisk in the bowl). Then add the oil and shake really well again to combine.

    Wash the leaves of lettuce and tear or cut them if you like. If you did find little gems, they are nice when left whole. Slice the radishes and combine with lettuce. Toss with dressing to taste.

  • 10. PLATING

    Divide salad among plates or serve family style and top with the pepitas. When the enchiladas are done, use a spatula to add to the plates.

Check out our new features!


    Any fresh red salsa works in this same way.
    For a treat, find 1lb fresh tomatillos. Roast them at 425 with half of an onion and 3 cloves of garlic and maybe a jalapeno and 1 cup of cilantro stems. When charred and soft, blend. You might want to add a little more stock to thin it out.
  • BEANS:
    Pinto beans or even white beans work here too. If allergic, consider adding steamed rice, small dice of cooked sweet potato, or double the squash and corn instead.
    Shredded chicken is classic. Either use a rotisserie chicken and shred it or use leftover chicken. Or cook about ½ pound of chicken in the oven or poached in a pot of water until just cooked. Cool and shred. Add the to Three Sisters saute.
    If you get 100% corn tortillas they should be GF. Omit the flour from the sauce and use 1 teaspoon of cornstarch instead.
    Read the label on the tortillas, you can find vegan ones. Omit the cheese. Consider mashing or pureeing some of the beans with a few tablespoons of stock to make them creamy and hold the filling together. Or, use a non-dairy based cheese or spread as a substitute.
    Fresh chevre/goat’s cheese would be delicious inside the enchiladas, no need to use anything on top.
  • PALEO:
    Make it a composed salad! Ditch the tortillas entirely. Double the lettuce. And omit the beans. Dice and saute sweet potatoes or cauliflower florets and a bell pepper along with the squash and corn (maybe omit corn too depending on your diet). Plate lettuce tossed with lime dressing and top with sauteed veggies, radish and pepitas. Garnish with tomatillo sauce.
    My kids like the shape of quesadillas better (ridiculous but oh well) so I just make some flat for them and crisp them in the oven or a saute pan. Edit ingredients to their tastes
Rate this recipe:
5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 55 votes, average: 5.00 out of 55 votes, average: 5.00 out of 55 votes, average: 5.00 out of 55 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Send us feedback

Meal Plans

save time and reduce food waste
Get Your First Meal Plan