This is a super quick, super tasty, exotic but straight up sort of vegetarian dinner your girl friends might get around to if you ply them with Riesling or Portuguese Vinho Verde (both sparkling and sassy and the perfect counterpoint to the slight sweetness of the squash and the sticky rice) and serve the meal in pretty bowls. A sourdough baguette and some Manchego cheese would be a bit great, as would a sliced perfectly barely ripe pear. The meal takes about 45 minutes of cooking time but zero prep time and 5 minutes plating time. Do you have something in your repertoire that's faster to prepare, prettier to look at, and equally healthful? Cause if you do, send it my way!
This is the gist of the recipe and then I'll break it down a bit further for you.
Take a butternut squash, wash it, stick it whole on a baking pan and stick into a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through (a knife will slip easily in and out of the entire squash). Peel cooked squash with a knife and cut into cubes. Toss with your favourite pesto sauce. Many are wildly different. I love the traditional basil parmesan pesto but I also love a spicy cilantro pesto that appears more like a vinaigrette with chopped herbs.
Meanwhile cook the black sticky rice, as it takes about the same amount of time: 45 minutes. Here's a weird fact: black sticky rice (like sushi rice, etc) is considered a glutinous rice, and yet... it is safe for gluten free diets, i.e. it has no gluten. Strange. It can be a bit gummy and I tend to overly rinse it before I cook it and then also drain it and run through cold then hot water again once cooked to clear away the starch. Black rice is referred to as a sweet rice but it ain't sweet. It's got a nutty taste and a solid texture and it's full of vitamins and minerals and fibre, more than brown rice. I find cooking this sort of rice to be more effective if I boil it rather than steam it. Using the latter remedy has resulted in too many miscalculations and soggy rice or uncooked rice. If you triple the water content and bring the rice to a boil, then lower the heat to low, and simmer until cooked through, about 45 minutes for 1/2 cups of cooked rice (3 cups uncooked), you'll end up with a perfectly cooked glistening purple rice to counterbalance your squash.
Top with fresh or fried sage leaves.
If you're not doing the bread and cheese thing (and frankly after the holidays that might be a good thing), serve a large inviting salad mixed with winter greens like arugula, endive and frisee then toss with a bit of shaved parmesan and whatever nut you have on hand: hazlenuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds -- all would be good!