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Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon and Parmesan Cheese

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This delightful zucchini ribbon salad with lemon and Parmesan cheese is bursting with fresh flavors and simple ingredients. It is easy to make and a great way to showcase the vibrant produce you can grow in your backyard garden in late summer or find at your local farmers market. It’s a light and refreshing side dish to complement your summer meals.

What to do with all that Zucchini?

Every year I almost always end up with a surplus of zucchini. We find ways to sneak it into a wide variety of recipes. One of our favorite recipes is our zucchini bake. It is a recipe first developed for a restaurant, and we still make it today. It tastes like a pizza with bacon.

This salad is another delicious and easy-to-make dish that celebrates the beauty of fresh zucchini and other seasonal produce.

With its simple ingredients and refreshing flavors, this salad is a good thing to have in your repertoire of fresh produce recipes. Pick some fresh zucchini and give this easy salad a try.

zucchini ribbon salad

Choosing Zucchini

When shopping at farmer’s markets or the grocery store for zucchini, aim for small, thin ones. Large zucchinis often end up pulpy with large seeds. Look for vibrant color, smooth skin without nicks, and a firm texture. To make the ribbons, all you need is a simple vegetable peeler. Nothing fancy required.

Zucchini Salad Ingredients and Substitution Ideas

Let’s dive into these ingredients and explore some alternatives to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Lemon: Both zested and juiced, lemon brings a bright and zesty flavor to the salad dressing. If you’re looking for alternatives, you can use other citrus fruits like lime or orange for a different twist. Alternatively, you can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for a tangy kick.

Red wine vinegar: Adding a hint of acidity, red wine vinegar balances the flavors in the dressing. If you don’t have red wine vinegar on hand, you can substitute with white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

Dijon mustard: Providing depth and a subtle tanginess to the dressing, Dijon mustard is a classic choice. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use yellow mustard or omit it altogether for a simpler dressing.

Honey: Offering a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity, honey complements the other flavors in the dressing. If you’re vegan or prefer to avoid honey, you can use maple syrup or agave nectar as alternatives.

Extra virgin olive oil: serving as the base of the dressing, extra virgin olive oil adds richness and smoothness. If you’re looking for a lighter option, you can use avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or a blend of olive oil and canola oil.

Kosher salt and black pepper: These seasonings enhance the flavors of the salad and dressing. Feel free to adjust the amount according to your taste preferences.


For the Salad

Zucchini: Sliced into ribbons, zucchini provides a crisp and refreshing base for the salad. If you want to add more variety, you can also include yellow squash, cucumber, or carrots thinly sliced or spiralized.

Onion: Thinly sliced onion adds a subtle sharpness and crunch to the salad. If you’re not a fan of raw onion, you can use shallots or green onions for a milder flavor. Another nice option is red onion or Vidalia onion.

Walnuts: Toasted walnuts contribute a delightful nuttiness and crunch to the salad. If you have allergies or prefer other nuts, you can use almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts instead.

Parmesan cheese: Shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese adds a savory umami flavor and a hint of saltiness to the salad. Other popular options include feta cheese, goat cheese, or an Asiago cheese.

Optional: If you happen to have fresh herbs on hand, add a rough chopped tablespoon as a garnish. Great options include fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh dill, or parsley.

By experimenting with these ingredients and alternatives, you can customize the salad to suit your taste preferences and dietary restrictions while still enjoying a delicious and satisfying dish.

This raw zucchini salad makes for a perfect side dish for any summer meal. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or enjoying a picnic in the park, this simple salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Storage Tips

If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The salad will keep well for a day or two, but it’s best enjoyed fresh to maintain its crisp texture and vibrant flavors.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad Recipe

Prep time
15 minutes
4 servings

For the dressing:

1 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 Teaspoon Red Wine vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Teaspoon Honey
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

For the salad:

3 Medium Zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced into ribbons
½ Small Onion, thinly sliced
⅓ Cup Walnuts, toasted
⅓ Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded or shaved

Toast the walnuts. In a skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Set aside.

Prepare the zucchini ribbons: Using a simple vegetable peeler, carefully slice the zucchini or yellow squash into thin ribbons. This technique allows for a delicate texture that beautifully absorbs the flavors of the dressing.

zucchini ribbon salad

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. This bright and zesty dressing will elevate the flavors of the salad and bring a burst of freshness to each bite.

In a large bowl, gently toss the zucchini ribbons and thinly sliced onion with the dressing until evenly coated.


To serve, arrange the dressed ribbons of in a serving bowl, low dish, or serving platter.

Finish with walnuts and parmesan cheese.  Add the toasted walnuts and Parmesan cheese over the top of the salad. The nutty and salty notes of the Parmesan will complement the freshness of the vegetables beautifully.

Serve and enjoy

If you like easy recipes, this Broccoli Cauliflower Salad Recipe is a winner, just add the ingredients in a bowl, mix a salad dressing and toss to combine. A delicious side dish with minimal effort.