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”

  1. Pingback: Pumpkin Recipes

  2. This sounds absolutely lovely! Yum!

  3. Looks so healthy and delicious! My girls think cauliflower is white broccoli too! :)

  4. wow i must give this a try! So pretty girl!

  5. I’m obsessed with pumpkin, year round – just haven’t been using it recently!

  6. Love love pumpkin. I have a stash in the cabinet that I should probably experiment with for summer dishes. It can make such a great sauce…..so maybe a marinade for grilling too huh? ;-)

  7. This recipe looks absolutely divine! I happen to have (almost) all the ingredients to make this tonight for my dinner! Thank you for the inspiration :)

  8. Pumpkin knows no seasons in my world. I already have… 12 pumpkin recipes lined up beginning in September lol. I am tempted to start rolling them out now. :) Kevin hates pumpkin. I don’t know how we get along.

    I love your recent tempeh salads, Averie! I feel like I would prefer it cold… i loooove cold leftover pasta salads and such. It looks like something I could make on a sunday and eat all week by myself.

    I prefer heavily seasoned food too, so I’m sure I would use all of your suggested measurements! I hate bland food and especially for things like tofu + tempeh.. you need a lot of seasoning for them to pick up the flavor!

    • Some people say they don’t like “health food” because it’s bland. And many times, it is. Especially compared to your standard issue tv frozen dinner which is seasoned with a pound of salt. So you HAVE to add some flavor to things (unless you’re a purist and I actually love just steamed broc and cauli plain but the family needs some pizazz) and I also don’t like garlic/onions so I go with other seasonings to compensate.

      And yes, roll out the pumpkin recipes now! They will get more love and less “lost in the shuffle”!

  9. YUM. There is no such thing as too much summer squash. I need to remember this recipe for the bounty of summer squash I am going to have in a month or so (I hope). I also think that anything with pumpkin spice and cranberries is a year-round thing and not becuase of the blogosphere, but because I live in the land of the cranberry.

    I ate SO much cauliflower this weekend. I love it, but….um….yeah. That was all I could eat at the wedding and then we got to take home the leftovers. I still have some….

  10. Oh Avery, how creative!! That sounds delicious! I love the flavor combinations going on in there! yum!! and white broccoli – love it:) I’m definitley going to have to give this a try! mmm!

  11. I love the looks of this recipe!!!! Guess I know what I’ll be making the minute I get home from Jamaica

  12. I totally agree, pumpkin knows no season, thats why I grabbed one yesterday, can’t wait to use it! Love your recipe, healthy, filling and with so many great flavors!

  13. The colors in this are just gorgeous! I see no reason why pumpkin can’t be an all year round thing ;)

  14. Love all the colors and textures here, and especially the pumpkin spice. Yum!

  15. I’m pretty much obsessed with pumpkin so this is a perfect recipe in my eyes! I made gingerbread bars for my friend to take hiking with her in May and everyone thought they were ‘out of season’…until they tried them! Bring on the pumpkin!

  16. The first thing that draws me in with this salad is the beautiful colors. Who would not want to each such a gorgeously presented dish! And the flavors sound wonderful. I use pumpkin pie spice all year round :)

  17. I SO agree about pumpkin not being seasonal in the blogosphere! I just posted a pumpkin protein waffle recipe and was nervous people wouldn’t take to it being that it’s so out of season but people went nuts and all said how much pumpkin they’ve been having lately lol!

  18. Pumpkin is one of those flavors that I so overuse around the holidays that I can’t even bear to think about it until the holidays roll around again! lol

  19. Love all the veggies in this! I love putting dried fruits in salads :D

  20. Yes, that would be roasted vegetables, including tomatoes. I can live on roasted and raw vegetables only. :) As of me, I really like when there is a lot of seasonal recipes posted during the season by bloggers. We eat the freshest, seasonal veggies and fruits. I grew up this way, and I crave strawberries and raspberries in June, peaches and apricots in July/August, pumpkins in October, and apples and cabbage through the winter. :)

  21. I am good with pumpkin any day of the year. What a great blend of spices to really warm up the salad!

  22. I just wrote a long comment, hit Submit and it disappeared! Ok, I have to go to my yoga class, be back to re-post that comment. :)

  23. Gorgeous Averie!

  24. This salad is so bright and cheery…I love it! Also I agree about pumpkin. It’s delicious anytime of the year!

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