Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad

It’s never to early to start thinking about pumpkin season even if that means it’s not even the Fourth of July.

Pumpkin knows no seasons. At least in the blogosphere.

As a way to jazz up this salad, which can be served warm or cold, I paired pumpkin pie spice with ground ginger and cumin.

The medley of warming spices apparently worked because even Scott, who is not known for going to town on his summer squash, cauliflower and broccoli, said this was good. Skylar calls cauliflower white broccoli and asked for more. More cruciferous vegetables for you any day, honey.

The tempeh soaked up some of the spices, too, and were little protein-packed pumpkin nuggets.

Okay, pumpkin nuggets is a bit of a stretch but tofu and tempeh are great “blank canvases”. They soak up and take on whatever flavors and spices they’re mixed with and in this dish, it was pumpkin.

As long as I was going for fall-in-the-middle-of-summer and had a bag of dried cranberries on hand, I tossed those in, too. Chewy and sweet and they lended another layer of texture and flavor to this salad.

Or stir fry. Or side dish. Or main dish. Or perfect cold leftover salad.

I’m sure glad I found this lurking in the back of my spice cabinet. It’s amazing what happens when you re-organize your kitchen and get a new cabinet.

Everything that was shoved in the back of the cupboard becomes new again. Love that.

The pumpkin pie spice helped mask the taste of utterly too many summer squash I was forcing on my family enhance the flavor of all the summer squash I had bought that were on sale that I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do with.

This is a one skillet number and ripe for substitutions and tweaks based on what you have on hand and enjoy.

Gather your ingredients.

Dice, season, and sear the tempeh. Place in a bowl.

Season and warm the rice. Place in the same bowl.

Add the vegetables, season, and cook. In the final minute of cooking, add a pinch of sugar and vinegar to make a pan sauce and let that cook and reduce for a minute before tossing the sauced-up veggies into the bowl.

After all components are in the bowl, add the cranberries and raisins, toss and taste. If needed, hit it with a dash of vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, or seasonings.

This was literally steaming in my face while I was taking the pictures and was fogging up my camera lens and giving me a pumpkin-scented steam facial all in one. Bonus.

Serve up your Thanksgiving-themed vegan meal in the middle of summer.

It worked for us.



Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad (vegan, gluten free if gluten-free tempeh is used)

Makes about 8 cups, serve warm or cold, great leftovers

approximately 1/4 cup olive oil, divided into multiple uses

2 to 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, optional

1 cup tempeh, diced in small cubes

2 1/2 to 3 cups pre-cooked brown rice

6 to 7 cups diced vegetables (yellow summer squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots – see suggestions at bottom)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, divided use*

1 teaspoon ground ginger, divided use*

1 teaspoon cumin, divided use*

salt and pepper, to taste

optional spices and seasonings (curry, garlic, onion powder, 21 Salute, paprika, Mrs. Dash, etc.)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar, optional but recommended for flavor balance

2 tablespoons apple cider, balsamic, or champagne vinegar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

To a large non-stick skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the tempeh and sear it over medium-high heat, flipping as needed. Searing will take about 2 minutes. Add tempeh to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

To the skillet (you don’t have to wash it), add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the rice and season with 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper to taste, stirring frequently. Warming the rice will take about 2 minutes. Add the rice to the mixing bowl with the tempeh and set aside.

To the skillet (you don’t have to wash it), add 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter to taste (it gives the vegetables an extra layer of flavor), add the vegetables, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and optional seasonings. Stir to evenly coat the vegetables. Cook over medium to medium high, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until softened but not mushy. In the final minute of cooking, add the sugar and vinegar, stir to incorporate and turn off the heat. Add the cooked vegetables to the mixing bowl with the rice and tempeh.

Add the cranberries and raisins to the mixing bowl and toss to mix evenly. Taste and if needed, add a dash of vinegar, oil, seasonings, salt or pepper, to taste. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The flavors marry on the second and third day and this dish gets better with time. Serve leftovers cold or gently reheated.

*Note that I prefer more robustly seasoned food and if you don’t, scale back to 1/2 teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice, ginger and cumin. Alternately, add other or additional seasonings, to taste.

Substitutions and Suggestions

Use any vegetables you have on hand and need to be used; fresh, frozen, or canned such as corn, cabbage, radishes, zucchini, jicama, bell peppers, celery, pre-cooked sweet potatoes

Use any seasoning or spice blend you enjoy such curry, garlic, onion powder, 21 Salute, Mrs. Dash, etc. and add these to either the rice or vegetables while cooking

Use tofu, beans, chicken or tofu nuggets, pre-cooked chicken strips, meatballs, in place of or in addition to the tempeh


Related Recipes:

Orange Ginger Tempeh and Brown Rice Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used)

Fig Butter & Cumin Tempeh Stir Fry (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used)

Tempeh and Cucumbers on a Stick with Brown Sugar Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used)

Pumpkin Honey Tofu (GF, use agave instead of honey to keep vegan) – Due to the method used of freezing the tofu, then thawing it, then marinating and cooking it, this tofu turns out incredibly spongy and bread-like; a tofu-based pumpkin bread. I highly recommend it.

A collection of Pumpkin Recipes

Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney (vegan, GF) – Easy to make at home and a fraction of the price of TJ’s or any other store-bought chutneys

Do you have any favorite meals, flavors, or spices that no matter the season, you like them and eat them?

The Old-Fashioned Butter Mints that I just made may be red, green, and minty, but sure tasted good in mid-June.

Same with this Mint Coffee Creamer

And I’ll drink Iced Coffee in the winter

This meal was also an attempt to ward off some germs. Cumin, ginger, vinegar; they’re anti-viral and with the anti-oxidants from the cranberries – I figured it couldn’t hurt, and could only help, in keeping everyone healthy. Gotta love kids and playground germs and viruses so an immune system boost from spices can’t hurt.

Pumpkin fan or not so much?

I’m the first to admit that the blogosphere has entirely too much pumpkin on it from September to December so figured I’d start early with that annoying trend I’d post this early so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of pumpkin recipes in the fall.

Then in November I can post a red, white, and blue angel food cake and berry trifle with whipped topping just to confuse the seasons a little and keep life interesting.

66 comments on “Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad”

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  5. This looks amazing, and it’s always pumpkin season in my world.

  6. Just wanted to let you know I sent my sister the ink to this post(she has a 3 ans a 2 yr old) and she sent this back, along with aa photo:
    This came out restaurant quality! Fragrant, beautiful and delish! Uve GOT to try it! Pumpkin spiced tempeh recipe u sent me. So good!!!!! Thank you! Wish u were comin over for dinner. Xoxoxoxxoxo

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  8. On Fridays, I share my favorite food finds in a series called Food Fetish Friday – and I love this post so I’m featuring it as part of the roundup (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I always love dropping by to see what you’ve created…

  9. Looks very healthy and fresh! I’ll have to give a try sometime soon.

  10. This looks like such a fun use of tempeh, love it! And love the colors, need to try!

  11. Such a beautiful rice dish ~ love that you added the pumpkin spice to it!

  12. I eat pumpkin year ’round here. It’s hot all the time in Florida anyways. Creative combo!

  13. Oh holy jesus! that looks amazing! You always have the BEST recipes. Can’t wait to make this!

  14. Okay, confession time! I’ve never had tempeh. Or quinoa. Or flax seeds. Or bran. Or anything like that! I know I need to jump on the band-wagon, because it’s good for you and I always see yummy recipes featuring those grains/seeds, including this one! I never thought to add pumpkin pie spice to a savory salad dish, but I can only imagine it brings this salad to a whole new level of awesomeness. And I am a huge fan of cranberries in salad, so I was jumping for excitement over this one :)

  15. I love pumpkin all year long, and I’m always looking for healthy recipes with pumpkin. Thanks!

  16. definitely not too early to be thinking about pumpkin season! This looks mouthwatering! I love the colors!

  17. It’s winter here in Australia -that’s close to pumpkin season, right? At least, I just made pumpkin soup :P This looks lovely!

  18. I am a big pumpkin fan, but haven’t had pumpkin flavour in anything other than a dessert. I am intrigued!

  19. Your rice dish looks amazing!!! I love the combination you used!! This reminds me of a nice fall dish! I have to say I love anything pumpkin anytime of the year!

  20. I love Pumpkin. My favorite Yankee Candle is Spiced Pumpkin and I never tire of it! Wanna know something weird, though? I was JUST looking at this when I popped over to your blog:


    Happens so often! :-)

    I love all the textures in your recipes and the multiple layers of flavors. I made steamed brown rice with large, wild prawns sauteed in a homemade almond butter/honey sauce with currants and chopped pecans. They LOVED it!

  21. I wish that I was taking this for lunch tomorrow. It looks fantastic!!! My mouth is watering and sadly now I have to go pack up my borning lunch!

  22. I love pumpkin (and butternut squash) any time of the year! I also am loving peppermint mocha flavored coffee now too. That is such a colorful dish–I think it has every color in it! I stocked up on canned pumpkin knowing it might be harder to find this time of year. Pumpkin pie ice cream with pecans and a drizzle of caramel works for me in the summer.

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