Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shaved Zucchini Summer Salad

Hubby and I are lucky enough to have a fabulous small farmer's market just a few miles from our home.   We went for the first time this season last weekend and the market was in full swing with the delicious fruits of summer.  And veggies of course.  Zucchini and other squash was available in abundance and we brought home an armful!

Zucchini usually gets prepared just a handful of ways at our house.  GrilledBaked with Parmesan cheeseStuffed.  Cut into discs and coated with crispy panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and baked (hopefully a future blog post).  And now I have a new preparation to add to the rotation.  Shaved (raw) zucchini salad with fresh Parmesan, almonds and lemon dressing.  I shared a preview on Thursday with the Trio of Summer Salads.

I first saw this salad on Paige's blog, A Cooking Life and I was immediately intrigued.  Paige is a professional chef and cooking teacher and provides wonderful posts chalked full of detailed instructions on how to prepare her recipes along with a wealth of food knowledge weaved in.  Her dishes often focus on what is in season, making her zucchini post very timely!  (She has several other zucchini recipes too if you are looking for ways to use up your zucchini and squash...but I have my eye on Summer Squash Gratin to try next).

What I love about this salad is the zucchini is raw, yet is so tender it is as if it were cooked.  The key to this salad is choosing squash on the small side as well as getting a very thin shave on your zucchini, 1/16 of inch thick.  I think the only way to really achieve this with any consistency is by using a mandoline slicer.  A basic mandoline can be purchased for between $20 - $40.  I acquired a mandoline from my pal Amy for Christmas this past year and I haven't had a chance to really break it in yet, so I was thrilled to use it for this salad.  It worked like a charm.  Though it took me a good solid 10 minutes to figure out how to disassemble it to wash it and just as long to put it back together again! 

Paige's post talks about 2 different approaches to dressing the salad.  The recipe featured on Paige's blog comes from the cookbook The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm and uses the method of squeezing fresh lemon juice straight onto the salad and then finishing the salad with olive oil.  The other method is to prepare a lemon vinaigrette and then dressing the salad.  I followed Paige's recommendation to go with the method from The Vineyard Kitchen.  It allows the lemon to really soak into the squash without the oil being a barrier.  It was delicious and the lemon brings a wonderful bright flavor to the salad without being overly lemony. 

I made only 2 minor modifications.  I used fresh basil rather than flat leaf parsley.  And I added yellow summer squash in addition to the zucchini.  I love the sunny yellow splash the squash brings to the salad.  The ingredients are simple and really sing when brought together--the tender zucchini softened by the lemon, with a nice crunch from the toasted almonds and saltiness of fresh shaved Parmesan cheese tied up with sweet ribbons of basil.  I absolutely loved this salad.  It's light and refreshing and perfect for a summer day. 

A couple of notes.  The zucchini releases quite a bit of water as it marinates in the lemon juice and olive oil.   That being said, you can really be generous with the lemon juice so that it retains it's flavor.  Leftovers don't do so well the next day.  This salad is best eaten shortly after it's made.

Thanks for sharing such a great recipe Paige!

Shaved Zucchini with Toasted Almonds, Parmesan and Basil
Adapted from The Vineyard Kitchen via A Cooking Life

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds small (3 to 4 oz. each) zucchini and or yellow squash, washed and ends trimmed
3 ounces of fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup sliced or slivered toasted almonds (toast lightly in a pan on the stove over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally)
2 - 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 - 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Slice zucchini/squash lengthwise 1/16th inch thick using a mandoline slicer.  Place shaved zucchini in a medium/large bowl.  Add 2/3 of the shaved Parmesan, the toasted almonds, basil and season (generously) with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and toss gently and taste for seasoning. Add more lemon juice and salt as needed.  The salad should be a bit tangy.  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss again and taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.  Serve salad and finish with a drizzle of olive oil remaining Parmesan.


  1. Gloria, You're right...the ingredients in this lively salad really do sing! I'm so glad you liked it and posted it. Your pictures are lovely. Thanks for the link, too!

  2. Thank you for sharing - this is so simple, but perfect!

  3. This salad looks amazing! It never would occur to me to eat raw zucchini. I think basil instead of parsley is an excellent substitution - gotta take advantage while it's in season.

  4. I love making squash ribbons, such a great alternative to a bowl of pasta. I love the salty feta addition!