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I make this zucchini salad every summer for family gatherings and it’s always a huge hit. The combination of crisp fresh zucchini, juicy cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, and toasted pine nuts makes for a refreshing combination of flavors. Unlike some other zucchini salad recipes that use chopped zucchini or zoodles (though I do have a zucchini noodle salad as well), this one has shaved ribbons of squash for a unique texture.
Whether you’re looking for a light healthy lunch or a side dish to pair with your grilling recipes, this zucchini salad recipe adds so much flavor, with real food ingredients. Plus, it’s simple to make and takes less than 30 minutes.
Why You’ll Love This Zucchini Salad Recipe
- Bright, zesty, herby flavor
- Crisp, crunchy textures
- Fresh, simple ingredients
- Ready in just 20 minutes
- Naturally gluten free, vegan, low carb, and just plain healthy
- Perfect summer veggie salad
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for this raw zucchini salad recipe, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You only need five simple ingredients for the salad itself:
- Zucchini – When picking squash for zucchini salad recipes, small to medium-sized ones are ideal because they are less watery and a little sweeter. You can also use yellow summer squash or even cucumbers instead of green zucchini.
- Cherry Tomatoes – You could use other small, sweet tomatoes such as grape tomatoes, or just dice larger tomatoes.
- Shaved Parmesan Cheese – I love the texture of shaved parmesan here, but shredded works for zucchini ribbon salad, too. You can also try other cheese options, like crumbled feta cheese, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, burrata, or grated pecorino romano. Simply omit the cheese for a dairy free version.
- Pine Nuts – These add a delicious nutty crunch, and pair so well with the parmesan. (I use the same combo for arugula salad, too!) You could substitute chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pecans, or for nut-free options, try pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds.
- Fresh Herbs – I used fresh parsley and fresh chives, but you could try other herbs, such as fresh basil leaves, dill, or mint for different flavors.
VARIATION: Add onions!
Green or red onion would work best here if you want to add it.
The dressing is a little similar to classic lemon vinaigrette (which you could also use for this zucchini salad), but this one uses fresh herbs instead of dried:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This makes up the base of the dressing. You could use avocado oil, regular olive oil, or really any oil you like.
- Lemon Juice – Fresh is always best, but bottled lemon juice also works. You can also substitute white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
- Fresh Herbs – Use the same kind that’s in the salad separately. We’re just adding more to the dressing!
- Garlic Powder – You can substitute 2-4 cloves of fresh minced garlic instead, but the flavor might be too strong.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Zucchini Salad
This section shows how to make a zucchini salad, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Slice the zucchini. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into thin ribbons. (Alternatively, if you don’t have either of these tools, you can try a sharp knife or simply cut into round slices, but the texture of the salad won’t be as nice.)
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, chives, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Marinate the veggies. Add the zucchini ribbons and halved tomatoes to a bowl. Pour dressing over top. Gently toss together and marinate.
- Toast the pine nuts. While the zucchini marinates, add the pine nuts to a small skillet over medium heat. Toast until lightly browned.
TIP: Stir the pine nuts often.
They burn easily, so stir them to avoid this.
- Assemble the zucchini salad. Arrange the zucchini and tomatoes on a large platter or in a large bowl. Top with shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and more chives and parsley.
VARIATION: Make grilled zucchini salad!
If you’re not a fan of raw zucchini, make grilled zucchini instead. Cool completely, then assemble the salad.
Zucchini salad recipes taste best fresh, but you make the ribbons, slice the tomatoes, and make the dressing ahead of time. Keep the components in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Store the dressing separately for up to 1 week. If you already added the dressing to the salad, it might last 1 day.
What To Serve With Zucchini Salad
This is the perfect summer salad, but what do you pair it with? Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Chicken – Cook up some quick chicken on the stovetop, like creamy chicken florentine or simple pan seared chicken breast. If you want to fire up the grill, any cut of chicken will pair well, but you can’t go wrong with crispy grilled chicken legs.
- Beef – Tender grilled steak or juicy burgers would make excellent pairings. The zucchini salad is a great way to balance out their stronger flavors.
- Pork – For the perfect summer meal, serve this salad alongside some juicy grilled pork chops.
- Seafood – Zucchini always goes well with fish! Try flaky baked salmon or make grilled halibut if it’s hot outside. For other seafood, grilled shrimp skewers, a cold and creamy shrimp salad, or even grilled lobster tail also make great warm weather options.
- Soup – Serve with summery zucchini soup if you have a lot of squash to use up (or you could also freeze extra zucchini for later). This raw zucchini salad would also go well with other creamy soups, like lobster bisque for a special meal or cauliflower cheese soup for a vegetarian meal.
More Summer Salad Recipes
Looking for more fresh and simple salads? These make the most of peak-season produce and simple ingredients:
Zucchini Salad (Easy & Healthy!)
Make this easy zucchini salad recipe with fresh herbs, pine nuts, parmesan, & lemon dressing in just 20 minutes. The perfect summer side dish!
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon chives, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper.
Add the zucchini ribbons and halved tomatoes to a bowl and pour the dressing over them. Gently toss together and marinate for 5 minutes.
While the zucchini mixture is marinating, add the pine nuts to a small skillet over medium heat. Toast for 3-5 minutes, until they start to lightly brown. Make sure to stir often to avoid burning.
Plate the zucchini salad and top with the shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts, remaining 1 tablespoon chives, and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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