Three Sisters and Feta Spinach Quinoa Cakes

three sisters and feta spinach quinoa cake

There was a restaurant near my old job called Moxee. It recently closed (shame, it was really good!), and they had a dish called the "Three Sisters." To be 100% honest with you, I never had ordered it because 1) beans cause indigestion for me - and I didn't want to eat them at work and 2) typically work was paying, and I went for a higher priced item, like a blackened salmon salad. That being said, this was a favorite for a lot of my colleagues (apparently they didn't have the same issue with beans... *side eye*).  I was asked recently to try and recreate it. The humor in all of this is that I had never eaten it. So I basically I took the ingredients and made my own #shedapproved version. 

But first, I was intrigued, I hadn't heard of the "three sisters" before this, so I did a quick google, and I was fascinated by my findings. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, apparently, the three sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: winter squash, maize (corn), and climbing beans.

"The three crops are planted close together and benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a 'living mulch', creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and all eight essential amino acids, allowing most Native American tribes to thrive on a plant-based diet."

I mean, I don't know about you, but I think that this is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. How cool that the Native Americans figured this out: 1) From an agricultural standpoint and 2) from a biological, nutritional perspective. This inspired me to do the dish justice. I got to work. 

Here was the menu description: "Vegetarian hash with roasted butternut squash, corn, and pinto beans (3 sisters) topped with sweet peppers, onions and a light roasted garlic sauce with a grilled herb polenta cake."

Well, no knock to polenta, but it's not shed approved, so it was out. To give homage to our South American Native Americans (hello Incans!), I thought quinoa could be a good substitute. As I had never made a "quinoa cake" before, I looked to pinterest for inspiration. It did not disappoint. I found a recipe from the Domestic Superhero that seemed would work perfectly. There was a catch, she had used breadcrumbs in her recipe (not Shed approved) – would it still work? Well spoiler alert: it worked just fine without them. Didn't miss them either! 

Also, I made one other big change to the original menu item - the light roasted garlic sauce became tzatziki. This gives it a bit of a mediterranean flair (I'm Lebanese, what can I say, can't help myself!). The lemon zest and feta were just asking for the tzatziki. While these vibes seem to not be the same, I can tell you, the flavors complimented each other beautifully.  

The rest of the recipe seems to speak for itself. I hope you try it- it's perfect for #meatlessmonday! Have a great day, beauties! 


Three Sisters 


three sisters feta spinach quinoa cakes 2
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb 5 oz butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp liquid aminos 
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained (it's winter- in the summer I would use fresh!)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped 
  • 5 small sweet peppers, deseeded and sliced horizontally


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add butternut squash, cook for a couple minutes. Add garlic and add liquid aminos. When butternut squash is 75% finished (softer, but not cooked all the way through), add pinto beans and corn. Mix well. Cook until butternut squash is soft. 

While butternut squash is cooking, in another skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil over low heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion and sweet peppers. Cook until onions are browned and peppers are soft. 

Serve onion and pepper mix on butternut squash mixture. Pair with Feta Spinach Quinoa Cakes. 

feta spinach quinoa cakes

(Adapted from Domestic Superhero


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces chopped baby spinach
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Tzatziki sauce


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size bowl.

Add the eggs, quinoa, feta, lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp black pepper and mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture.

Wipe out large skillet, and add extra virgin olive oil. Heat for a few minutes.

Form quinoa patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place the patties in skillet, in batches if necessary. Cook the patties until they’re browned on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes per side, and then flip.

Serve with a dab of Tzatziki sauce on each patty. 


  • I eliminated breadcrumbs, a homemade sauce, and dill from the original recipe. 
  • Breadcrumbs were eliminated because they are empty calories. The recipe works without them, but I’m sure it would be great with them as well. 
  • To make life easier I thought it best to use pre-made Tzatziki which already has dill in it. Thought doubling up on dill was unnecessary. 
  • Lastly, you could try baking the patties as well to time the meal better. 

Update 2/13/18: The first version of this post was missing the measurement for butternut squash. Error is now corrected.