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This raw Zucchini Salad is one of the best ways to enjoy zucchini fresh out of your garden! Marinated ribbons of crisp zucchini are dressed with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic for big flavor!
We love using fresh produce during the summertime! Some of our other favorite recipes that we make from our garden or the farmer's market are Fried Green Tomatoes, Peach Panzanella Salad, Southern Tomato Pie, and German Plum Cake.
Every now and then I make something for dinner and Paul reacts by saying "I hope you photographed this for the blog" and then encourages me to post it sooner rather than later so everyone else can enjoy it. Usually when I make and photograph a recipe for the blog it takes me a couple of weeks to edit the images, write up the post, and publish it. But this time I took Paul's advice and reorganized my publishing schedule just so I could get this incredible raw zucchini ribbon salad to you sooner.
Part of the reason is because it's a recipe I can never find when I go looking for it even though I have made it multiple times! A few years ago we decided to try some of those meal kit services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Have you ever tried one of those services? I actually really enjoy them because hey, even food bloggers get stuck in ruts and like someone else to make meal prep and planning easier every now and then.
This zucchini salad was one of the side dishes we tried for the first time thanks to Blue Apron. This post is not sponsored by them, but I actually do use them occasionally and enjoy getting a box maybe once every 2-3 months when I forget to postpone my scheduled deliveries. That's the worst part about those services is that you sign-up and have to remember every six weeks or so to go in and skip delivery for the next six weeks or boxes start showing up on your doorstep again unless you cancel altogether.
But back to this delicious summer salad! It feels embarrassing to admit this but I didn't know you could eat zucchini raw until this salad came into my life. It was a welcome revelation for me and when it's crazy hot outside, this crisp, refreshing salad always satisfies!
I love how slicing the zucchini into thin ribbons and then marinating it in lemon juice and salt tenderizes it just enough so that it is tender but not mushy. It's also an elegant presentation that makes this a great side to serve to guests.
The addition of shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts is optional, but adds a wonderful savory element with some additional crunch. You could use goat cheese or feta in place of the parmesan and pistachios instead of pine nuts.
This is a healthy, low-carb choice that I always feel good about. We actually make it year round using zucchini from the grocery store when it's not growing in our garden.
Tips for zucchini ribbon salad
- I don't recommend making this too far in advance and think it's best served the same day it is made.
- Smaller zucchini are better for the delicate ribbons in this salad. They tend to have fewer seeds and are easier to slice into ribbons like this.
- You can use yellow summer squash along with or in place of the zucchini, if you like. It makes for a pretty and interesting color to have yellow and green ribbons in the salad.
Let's make zucchini salad!
There really is not a lot to this recipe and anyone can easily make it. The trickiest part is getting those zucchini ribbons.
The easiest way is using a vegetable peeler or Y-peeler, if you have one. Just strip away the zucchini on one side until you are about halfway through, then flip it over and go to work on the other side.
Another option is to use a mandolin. And if you don't care about ribbons, I have even made this where I just use a sharp chef's knife to cut matchsticks from my zucchini and that works great too!
Next, go ahead and toast your pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for maybe 1-2 minutes. Watch them carefully because they are tiny and can burn easily. Set them aside when they are toasted so they can cool a bit.
Use a large, sharp knife to chop up one clove of garlic on a cutting board. Then use the back of the blade to mash the finely minced garlic into a paste. Finely chop any fresh herbs you want to use. I keep things simple with just some fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, but you could add fresh basil, dill, mint, or chives if you wanted a slightly different flavor profile.
Then it's simply a matter of drizzling the zucchini ribbons with the juice of one lemon and olive oil, adding the garlic, and sprinkling some kosher salt, pepper, and fresh herbs on before tossing the salad. Let the zucchini ribbons marinate for about 10 minutes, then toss again.
The last thing I do is sprinkle toasted pine nuts and shards of fresh parmesan on top. I like the parmesan shards, which you can make with a sharp knife or using your vegetable peeler, over grated parmesan because they are closer in size to the zucchini ribbons and give a nice salty punch of flavor.
I serve this family style in a wide, flat bowl for the best presentation. Like I mentioned before, this makes a fantastic side for anything from burgers to grilled chicken to meatballs. It's also wonderful for a light lunch!
More zucchini recipes
- Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread
- Zucchini Noodles (aka Zoodles)
- Zucchini Bread with Walnuts
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Zucchini Brownies
- Zucchini Fritters
- Zucchini Soup
- 1 ½ pounds zucchini about 3 medium zucchini
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove finely minced, then smashed into a paste with the flat side of your knife
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs such as dill basil, mint, chives, or a combination of the above
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts toasted
- ⅓ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- Slice zucchini using a vegetable peeler or Y-peeler, spiralizer, or just into thin matchsticks using a sharp knife.
- Finely mince the garlic using a large, sharp knife. Then use the backside of the knife to press or mash the minced garlic into a paste.
- Transfer the zucchini ribbons to a large serving dish, then drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the mashed garlic and sprinkle with the fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss well to coat and let marinate for 10-15 minutes.
- Toss again, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and parmesan just before serving.
- Crumbled feta or goat cheese are nice substitutes for the parmesan cheese.
- Pistachios are a good substitute for pine nuts.