Friday recipe: fall harvest salad

If you follow Dose of DMU and/or DMU Magazine, you know that Des Moines University is among the surprisingly few medical schools to offer a course on healthy cooking. At DMU, this popular elective serves as a hands-on laboratory for lecture courses on nutrition.

Students in the elective master techniques, learn to prepare different nutritious foods and gain knowledge on stocking their pantries and kitchens so they can prepare healthy yet affordable and not-too-complicated meals. That’s a great benefit for busy medical students. Perhaps more important, they gain real-world kitchen essentials that will someday equip them to counsel patients on practical ways to eat healthier.

Take advantage of the season’s bountiful butternut squash.

During the first six weeks of the course, the chief chefs are DMU Wellness Program Director Joy Schiller, M.S., CHES, and David Spreadbury, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry and nutrition, who are assisted by wellness center staff and periodically joined by other faculty “guest chefs.” But on the last meeting of the seven-week class, the students take over, preparing a meal that incorporates the healthful, largely plant-based principles and skills they’ve learned. Today’s recipe is from that session that also takes advantage of the season’s plentiful squash.

Fall harvest salad

  • 1 cup uncooked butternut squash, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 2 medium uncooked shallots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons apricot preserves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 medium pear, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a small baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss the cubed squash with the oil, rosemary and salt. Spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet, leaving space between the squash pieces. Roast, flipping once halfway through cooking, until squash is tender and lightly browned, 15-25 minutes total.

Whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients.

In a bowl, combine the roasted squash, spinach, diced pear and walnuts. Toss gently with the vinaigrette until thoroughly combined.

Nutrition info per each of four servings: calories, 177.7; total fat, 12g; saturated fat, 1.4g; polyunsaturated fat, 4.3g; monounsaturated fat, 5.7g; cholesterol, 0mg; sodium, 609mg; potassium, 429mg; total carbohydrate, 18.3g; dietary fiber, 4g; sugars, 7.6g; protein, 2.7g.

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