Raw Zucchini Ribbons Make for a Low-Key Stunning Side Salad!
When backyard gardens & CSA boxes are bursting with summer squash, I’m always on the hunt for delicious zucchini recipes to help put it to use. As much as I love tossing it into a simple Zucchini Pasta or rolling up a batch of Turkey Zucchini Meatballs, there’s something so satisfying about enjoying raw zucchini as-is. Freshly picked zucchini has the best delicate flavor & tender-crisp texture that’s worthy of celebrating all on its own, & this Shaved Zucchini Salad recipe does just that.
By simply running a vegetable peeler along the length of the squash, it’s easy to slice raw zucchini into beautiful, elegant-looking ribbons. From there, dress it with a simple mix of extra virgin olive oil & fresh lemon juice, & toss with some complementary add-ins like parmesan cheese, fresh basil, & toasted pistachios to build flavor & texture. It takes 10 minutes tops, but the resulting zucchini ribbon salad is an absolute stunner!
It’s a special-feeling side dish that always impresses – no one will ever guess how easy it was to throw together! – but it’s super versatile, too. Feel free to make it using whatever herbs, nuts, & cheeses you love most, then serve alongside grilled chicken, burgers, or brats for an end-of-summer feast that tastes just the way August should.
Shaved Zucchini Salad Recipe Highlights
There’s literally nothing not to love about this ribboned zucchini salad! It’s…
FRESH ZUCCHINI AT ITS BEST. Let freshly picked zucchini shine by shaving it into delicate ribbons & tossing with loads of basil, lemon, & garlic. Raw zucchini has the best delicate flavor & tender-crisp texture, especially during the peak-summer season!
SIMPLE YET ELEGANT. Beautiful zucchini ribbons make a stunning salad for any party or gathering. I guarantee that no one will even guess it only took 10 minutes to throw together – your secret is safe with me! 😉
BEAUTIFULLY VERSATILE. This base recipe is written how we like it most here at the PWWB House, but feel free to swap in your favorite cheeses or nuts to make it your own. No matter how you prepare it, this shaved zucchini salad is an absolute stunner!
The easy side salad every summer needs! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Shaved Zucchini Salad, or jump straight to the recipe & get prepping!
The beauty of this shaved zucchini salad is that is comes together with the simplest, freshest ingredients – just what you want during the peak-season summer months! Here’s what you’ll need…
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- Zucchini – I highly recommend using in-season summer squash to make this ribboned zucchini salad. Pick it fresh from your garden or search for it at the farmer’s market! Smaller or medium-sized zucchini has the best flavor & texture. More tips below!
- Fresh basil – Another great pick from your summer garden! My basil plants thrive in the hot summer weather, & by mid-August they practically beg to be tossed into everything.
- Pistachios – For the best pops of crunchy texture! As is the case with most nuts, pistachios have much richer, aromatic flavor when they’re toasted. To toast, simply place the nuts in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat & toss often until they’re lightly browned & fragrant. If you prefer to use a different nut, pine nuts & walnuts are great substitutes.
- Shaved parmesan – To layer the salad with the best savory, rich flavor! For a vegetarian shaved zucchini salad, be sure to use rennet-free parmesan. For a vegan version, use your favorite dairy-free cheese.
- Salad dressing – The zucchini salad dressing used here is a simple mix of olive oil, lemon, & finely grated garlic. Since this is a raw zucchini salad, it’s important to use good-quality extra virgin olive oil so all the flavors shine. My forever fave is from DeLallo – it’s made from cold-pressed 100% Italian olives & has the best rich & robust flavor. Mixing it with a little fresh lemon zest & juice creates the perfect light lemon vinaigrette.
Along with juicy heirloom tomatoes & sweet corn, fresh zucchini is a summertime superstar! If possible, I highly recommend making this zucchini ribbon salad while the squash is in season – that’s when it’s at its peak flavor & texture. It’s the perfect recipe for using up your summer garden harvest!
A few zucchini tips & tricks:
- Choosing your zucchini. ⇢ While gigantic garden zucchini are pretty impressive, they often have more moisture than flavor. I recommend using smaller or medium-sized zucchini for the best texture & taste in your shaved zucchini salad.
- Do you need to remove skin from zucchini? ⇢ Nope! Zucchini skin is thin, delicate, & totally edible. Plus I love its dark green color in a ribboned zucchini salad!
- Can you eat zucchini raw in a salad? ⇢ Absolutely – that’s what this shaved zucchini salad recipe is all about! Raw zucchini is seriously underrated. It has the best tender yet crisp texture & easily soaks up whatever flavorful goodness it touches.
How to Make Shaved Zucchini Salad
There’s no cooking required for this raw zucchini salad recipe, which means it’s ready fast. You’ll have the ultimate summer side in less than 10 minutes! Just like our Lemony Grated Zucchini Salad, it’s as simple as prepping the ingredients & tossing them all together.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Shave the zucchini. No fancy knife work or mandoline slicer involved! These beautiful ribbons are made by running a vegetable peeler along the length of the raw zucchini. Simply trim the ends off the zucchini & use the peeler to create long, delicate strands. Tip! ⇢ Rotating the zucchini as you peel makes it a little easier to hold. As you work your way to the center of the squash, you’ll reach the seedy core. Feel free to compost it once it gets too difficult to handle.
Assemble the zucchini ribbon salad. Place the sliced zucchini in a mixing bowl, then top with finely grated garlic, sliced basil, shaved parmesan, & chopped pistachios. Lightly dress the salad with olive oil & lemon zest + juice, then gently toss to combine well. The spongy ribboned zucchini will soak all of the flavor right up! Tip! ⇢ Because the zucchini ribbons are so delicate, it’s best to toss the salad & season it with salt & ground black pepper when you’re ready to serve it. The ribboned zucchini softens up quite a bit as it sits & we want to preserve its texture as long as possible!
Easy Recipe Variations
Aside from being super simple, the next best thing about this shaved zucchini salad recipe is how versatile it is. Make it with whatever add-ins you love most! Mixing things up is also an easy way to make it over & over until your garden runs out, without ever getting tired of it.
A few easy ideas to get you started…
Cheese. ⇢ Swap parmesan for feta cheese, goat cheese, or pecorino romano (a hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk). For a vegetarian salad, be sure to use rennet-free parmesan. For a vegan version, use your favorite dairy-free cheese.
Nuts. ⇢ Instead of pistachios, try a different type of nut like walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds, or pine nuts.
Herbs. ⇢ In place of (or in addition to!) basil, use whatever fresh herbs that need to be harvested from your garden. Fresh parsley, chives, dill, & fresh mint leaves all work wonderfully here. A handful of peppery arugula is also delicious!
Zucchini. ⇢ Feel free to use yellow squash in place of zucchini, or use a combination of the two to put your entire summer harvest to use!
This shaved zucchini salad is perfect for pretty much any occasion. It’s a great simple side salad for a weeknight dinner or low-key summer gathering. It’s also so fun to bring along to a backyard cookout or potluck – everyone is always so impressed by how beautiful it looks!
To make it a meal, serve your ribboned zucchini salad alongside any summer classics, like…
- Turkey burgers or vegetarian falafel burgers
- Quick & easy grilled lemon chicken
- Grilled sausages or Wisconsin brats
- Homemade pizza on the grill
- Marinated tomato pasta
I can’t wait for you to try this Shaved Zucchini Salad! It has all the best fresh summer flavors & is the perfect no-fuss recipe to use up your summer garden harvest. So much to love!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
More Recipes Like This:
Simple Summer Salads
I’m always on the hunt for delicious zucchini recipes to help put our end-of-summer harvest to use. While it’s always fun to toss it into pasta or bake a loaf of zucchini bread, there’s something so satisfying about enjoying raw zucchini as-is. Freshly picked zucchini has the best delicate flavor & tender-crisp texture that’s worthy of celebrating all on its own – this Shaved Zucchini Salad recipe does just that!
By running a vegetable peeler along the length of the squash, it’s easy to slice raw zucchini into beautiful ribbons. From there, just toss it up with EVOO, fresh lemon juice, & a few complementary add-ins (parmesan! basil! pistachios!) for an absolutely stunning summer salad, no cooking involved!
Aside from its gorgeous presentation, what I love most about a ribboned zucchini salad is its versatility. As-written, the recipe is how we like it most, but you can easily swap in any cheeses, nuts, or fresh herbs you might have hanging around your kitchen – check the blog post, above, for more guidance!
An always-delicious dish that tastes just the way August should. I hope you love it as much as we do! ♡
- 2 medium zucchini (approx. 12–16 oz)
- 1 lemon, zested & juiced (approx. 2–3 tablespoons juice)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced fine
- ½ cup shaved parmesan
- ¼ cup pistachios, toasted & roughly chopped
- 2–3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: additional grated cheese, leafy basil, crushed red pepper, etc.
- Shave the zucchini: Trim the ends off the zucchini. Run a vegetable peeler down its length, shaving it into thin ribbons. I typically turn the zucchini as I go & discard the center if it’s especially seedy. Transfer the shaved zucchini ribbons to a large bowl.
- Shaved zucchini salad assembly: To the bowl with the shaved zucchini ribbons, add the lemon zest & juice, garlic, basil, parmesan, pistachios, & olive oil. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Working gently to keep the delicate zucchini ribbons in tact, toss to combine well. Taste & adjust seasonings as desired.
- Serve immediately, garnished with extra basil & shaved parmesan as desired. This zucchini salad is a great potluck dish & it’s also a super easy side for any weeknight dinner – we enjoy it all the time with this simple Grilled Lemon Chicken or alongside this beautiful Marinated Tomato Pasta.
- Jess’ Notes & Tips:
- Zucchini: Zucchini is the star of the show here! For best results, use small-to-medium summer zucchini, which is going to be more tender, more flavorful, & better textured than large zucchini or off-season zucchini.
- Easy Swaps & Substitutes: The beauty of this zucchini salad is its versatility. If you prefer not to use parmesan, feel free to swap it out with pecorino romano, feta, or goat cheese. Similarly, the pistachios can easily be swapped with walnuts or pine nuts to create a salad that best suits your tastes. Have fun with it!
- Recipe variations: This shaved zucchini pasta recipe is naturally meatless. To ensure it’s vegetarian, be sure to use your favorite rennet-free parmesan. To take it a step further & make it vegan, opt for your favorite non-dairy parmesan.
- Make-Ahead & Storage: This shaved zucchini salad is best enjoyed immediately upon assembly, before the texture of the zucchini changes much, though leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If making ahead for a party or cookout, measure & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List, above, then shave the zucchini right before serving.
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.