This recipe takes it spice inspiration from Moorish Spain and North Africa. The sweet spiciness of cinnamon with the acidic heat of cumin and the rich warmth of smoked paprika impart a tastiness to the plainer ingredients.
This recipe can be made vegetarian by simply omitting the chicken.
Preheat oven to 375F. Wash and drain the lentils, discarding any debris.
In a square glass baking dish, mix together rice, lentils, and salt. Stir in boiling water. Cover with foil.
Bake 30 minutes or until both rice and lentils are well cooked (pleasantly softened and not raw tasting). Drain and discard any remaining water.
Using medium high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan (with cover for steaming the spinach later). Saute the celery and asafoetida (or onion and garlic) for about 3 minutes.
Add sliced squash and continue to saute on medium high heat, allowing the squash to toast a bit, about 5 minutes.
Add the spinach and 1 tablespoon water and cover to steam the spinach for 1 minute. Optionally, add chicken, replace the cover and heat an additional minute or until the spinach is soft and the chicken is heated through.
In a tightly sealed container, shake the 3 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt, and pepper with the 3 tablespoons olive oil and the red wine vinegar until thoroughly mixed.
Pour the dressing into the spinach and squash mixture while it is still on the heat. Stir and remove from heat. Allow to sit one minute in the hot pan to help the spices mellow.
Toss together the rice and lentils with the dressed spinach and squash mixture. Serve.