Native American Heritage Month - Recipes

Native American Heritage Month

Bring a Bit of Native America to Your Table to Celebrate!

November is National Native American Heritage Month in the United States. In recognition, First Nations Development Institute with the help of some of our great grantees is offering cookbooks and recipes from Native American tribes and organizations. Peparing some of these dishes is a great way to bring a delicious taste of Native America to your table.

This year's offering includes three new cookbooks that were developed under a project aimed at healthier cooking and improving nutrition for recipients of the USDA's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or FDPIR.  And we have included various recipes that we have shared previously.  

First Nations’ longtime food effort – the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative – and our newer partnerships in the FDPIR "Nutrition for Native American Communities" project and the “Seeds of Native Health” campaign, led us to think that sharing cookbooks and a few recipes -- some of which use traditional Native ingredients or processes, or which can be prepared with food items in the FDPIR program -- would be a wonderful way to observe Native American Heritage Month. “There is a major shift occurring in Indian Country as Native people are producing their own traditional foods on their own lands to sustain themselves, their families and their communities. This movement is an act of sovereignty and will contribute to having sustainable sources of foods. We sincerely thank our community partners for providing these cookbooks and recipes this year.

 

Cookbooks

The new cookbooks include a regional version called Cooking Healthier with FDPIR Foods, and two local versions from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and the STAR School, which serves the Navajo Nation. You can read or download these cookbooks for free at these links:

 

(These cookbooks and other items can also be found in the FDPIR Toolkit that is located elsewhere on the First Nations website.)

 

Other Recipes

The individual recipes we’re sharing come courtesy of two of our former grantees – Dream of Wild Health and the Intertribal Agriculture Council – and our own staff member Jona Charette (Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) and her aunts Maria Charette and Patricia Rowland (both Northern Cheyenne). Besides the recipes presented below, you can find additional recipes at these links: https://www.wozupi.com/recipes or http://www.redlakenationfoods.com/recipes 

For quick access to the recipe you want, click on the name of the item in the menu below.  Otherwise you can scroll down the webpage to find your recipe.

Wild Gitigan Salad and Dressing
Wojapi (Dakota Berry Sauce)
Three Sisters Soup
Double Cornbread Muffins
Corn, Blueberry and Wild Rice Salad
Blueberry and Peach Salsa
Wild Rice Hamburgers
Berry Pudding
Dried Berries
Dry Meat Soup
Pemmican 

WILD GITIGAN SALAD
From Executive Director Diane Wilson

Six talented Native youth leaders from Dream of Wild Health created this salad using ingredients important to their Native American cultures as well as vegetables grown at their Hugo, Minnesota, farm. The youth promoted this salad at Minnesota Twins baseball games as part of a healthy food initiative called Roots for the Home Team that encourages local youth groups with entrepreneurial projects. 

Cherry tomatoes are delicious in this salad, but if you can find ground cherries at a farmers' market or grow your own, they are amazing! Makes 8 (1-cup) servings.

For the salad:

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme1
  • 1½ cups whole wild rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (if using dried beans, 1/3 cup dried yields 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 bunches (about 8 cups) kale
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes or ground cherries, rinsed and halved
  • ½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese or parmesan cheese

For the dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Cook the black beans. Either soak beans overnight or use the quick-boil method. Then, add beans to a pot of fresh water, and boil until done, about 1-2 hours. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the wild rice. Rinse the rice well in a bowl of cold water and drain. Add rice, vegetable broth, and thyme to a pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the rice stand in the pot, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the thyme stems and fluff the rice with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  3. Wash the kale and remove the ribs. Thinly slice the kale into ribbons. Using a salad spinner, spin until most of the water is gone. 
  4. In a large serving bowl, add the kale, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little salt. Massage the kale until it starts to soften and wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
  5. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt & pepper, and ¼ cup of olive oil.
  6. To serve, add the wild rice, black beans, tomatoes or ground cherries, and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss to combine.

WOJAPI (DAKOTA BERRY SAUCE)

Makes about 4 cups

  • 4 cups blueberries or chokecherries, fresh or frozen            
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • Maple syrup
  • ¼ cup water

In a saucepan, simmer berries and water over low heat, stirring occasionally. (If using fresh berries, you may need more water to keep them from scorching.) Once the berries are broken down into a sauce, spoon out some sauce and whisk in the thickener. Fresh berries should need 1 tablespoon, frozen might need 2 tablespoons thickener. Whisk until completely dissolved, then add back to the rest of the sauce. Sweeten to taste with maple syrup. Serve on cornbread or ice cream.

THREE SISTERS SOUP
From Donna LaChapelle and Patricia Chandler

Makes 4 servings

  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup onion, diced 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 butternut or acorn squash, pre-baked and pureed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  •  ½ cup yellow corn kernels
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ cup hominy, cooked
  • 1 cup white beans, cooked
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in spices, cook for 1 minute. Add stock, corn, hominy, and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes to develop flavors. Stir in pureed squash, cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm with chives and plain yogurt as a garnish.

DOUBLE CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ cups unbleached all- purpose flour 
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (if frozen, thaw)
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt 
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350° F. Spray muffin liners with cooking spray and place in tray. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil and maple syrup until a thick slurry forms. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and then whisk in the buttermilk and sour cream. Pour the wet egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and then, using a rubber spatula, fold together until all of the cornmeal is completely incorporated. Fold in the corn kernels and the sage until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. The batter will be thick and pasty. Fill muffin cups half full. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The corn bread can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. If muffins have been frozen, put them directly into the oven for 15 to 18 minutes at 300° to thaw.

CORN, BLUEBERRY AND WILD RICE SALAD

Makes 8 servings

  • 6 ears sweet corn, husked (or 1½ cups frozen corn) 
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries 
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small cucumber, finely diced 
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add corn. Cook covered for 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, wild rice, and jalapeno. 

For dressing: in a screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad and toss. Cover the salad and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

BLUEBERRY AND PEACH SALSA

Blueberries have and continue to be a major food source for Great Lakes Region Indian communities in the summer; peaches don’t have the history or tradition but grow especially well in the tribal regions on the eastern side of Lake Michigan.

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup diced peaches
  • 1-2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 minced green onions
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro (optional)

Another simple recipe.  Simply mix the ingredients and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

 
WILD RICE HAMBURGERS

Want to lighten up those burgers while helping to keep them moist and delicious?  If so, definitely give this recipe a shot. Some restaurants use a very similar version to help meat like ground duck stick together while cooking. The wild rice’s flavor and texture add a subtle yet unique character.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Thoroughly mix the wild rice, ground beef and optional ingredients, if desired, in a large bowl until the texture is consistent. Form into patties and grill or cook, and then serve like a standard hamburger.

Jona Charette (Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)

BERRY PUDDING (Northern Cheyennes make Chokecherry Pudding) 

There are no measurements in this berry pudding. The recipe depends on the amount of berries you have.

  • Berries
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  1. Boil berries in a large saucepan, the water should be a couple of inches above the berries. Boil approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Strain berry juice and save.
  3. Mash the berries to release the juice. Set aside the berries.
  4. Mix enough flour and water to make a thick mixture but not a paste.
  5. Using the same boiling pan, pour mashed berries and less than half of the saved berry juice back in the pan. Heat at medium-high, slowly pouring the flour mixture in the pan. Keep stirring. If liquid gets thick, pour more berry juice, but not too much.
  6. Keep stirring the pudding until it comes to a boil; immediately remove from the stove, there should be some juice left. After the pudding cools, add sugar to taste. Do not leave the pudding cooking, it needs to be kept stirred.

DRIED BERRIES (Traditional Northern Cheyenne berries such as chokecherries, buffalo berries or wild blueberries)

  1. After picking the berries, put them, including the seeds, in a blender or food processor and blend/process into a pulp. (Traditionally, the berries were pounded, including the seeds, to a pulp with a formed rock).
  2. Form the pulp into patties, cover them with cheesecloth and lay them out to dry, turning occasionally. (Traditionally, they were dried in the sun).

*This process takes about two days. The patties may be stored in a tightly covered container for future use and can be used to make berry sauce.

DRY MEAT SOUP
By Maria Charette

  • Dry meat
  • Potatoes
  • Salt pork
  • Water – boil it down (this is where you get the flavor) do not add water as you cook
  • Hominy (if you don’t want to use potatoes)

Boil water in a large sauce pan, add the dry meat. This process will take a while as you need to get the dry meat soft. This process may take up to three to four hours. During this process, you can change the water out. Once the dried meat is soft, add the potatoes or hominy and salt pork. At this point, you do not want to change the water because this is where you capture all of the flavor. Bring the soup to a boil then turn to medium heat until the remaining ingredients are cooked through.

PEMMICAN
By Patricia Rowland

  • Dried meat (buffalo, game or beef)
  • Dried chokecherries (juneberries can be used as well) (use about the same amount as the dried meat)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Lard (to hold together) Do not use shortening or butter.

Pound meat very thin and dry in the oven. Grind the dried meat in a food processor. Add the chokecherries and blend together. The consistency should be dry and loose with fruit broken up. Add melted lard slowly while mixing. Two tablespoons of fat are used for each 4-5 ounces of meat plus 1/3 cup of fruit. Fat changes the consistency and makes it appear semi-moist instead of dry and improves the flavor and texture. Store in paper bags.