Summer squash never looked so pretty.
Just when I thought I could not . . . eat . . . another . . . zucchini . . . this summer, I remembered this lovely little recipe: Zucchini Ribbon Salad With Mint and Parmesan. Most recipes I see for zucchini or summer squash call for cooking the squash, whether into zucchini fritters, pastas, or even dessert (yum, zucchini bread). But this gem of a dish requires little more than 10 minutes and a vegetable peeler.
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This zucchini and summer squash salad recipe is directly inspired by my favorite little Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, Al dì La. This little jewel box restaurant with yellow window trim and a homey interior sits on a medium-busy corner in Park Slope, serving locals and visitors alike Northern Italian fare like their must-get tagliatelle al ragù, and spinach and Swiss chard malfatti swimming in brown butter and sage. (Oh man, I’m getting very hungry now.)
The ragù and malfatti have been on the menu since time immemorial, but the summer squash ribbon salad only makes an appearance when it’s in season. It is simple to prepare, and looks and tastes great in its simplicity. This recipe is not an exact copy, but is a very close, delicious version.
Recipe Notes: Zucchini Ribbon Salad With Mint and Parmesan
- Try to get the ribbons as thick as possible, both in width and thickness. Press hard on the vegetable peeler to make the slices a little thicker, or use a mandoline.
- Rather than rotating the squash as though you’re peeling a carrot, keep the squash in place as you peel, taking it down, down, down to toward the middle. Then flip it over and repeat. Do not discard the ends or center, which will not give you nice ribbons. Dice them up and reserve them for another use, such as a pasta or minestrone.
- A note on peelers. Every professional chef I ever worked with uses these Kuhn Rikon Swiss peelers, and I strongly recommend them. They are inexpensive workhorses: efficient, easy to grip, and with a wide blade that makes slicing easy.
- The zucchini and squash will give off moisture once they have been salted. Let them drain in a colander for about 15 minutes if you’d prefer to avoid excess moisture, or toss and serve immediately. I do not mind a little moisture, but just F.Y.I. in case you want to let it sit first.
Zucchini Ribbon Salad With Mint and Parmesan
- 1 of each: medium-sized zucchini and yellow summer squash
- 1/4 rounded teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 1/2 a lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- fresh black pepper
- 1 large pinch hot red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chopped mint, loosely packed, plus more for garnish
- Using a wide vegetable peeler or a mandoline set to a narrow setting, slice the zucchini and summer squash into long ribbons. Toss with the salt, and set aside to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. (You can also skip the draining part if you want to get right down to business, though some moisture will accumulate in the bowl.)
- Toss the zucchini and squash with the lemon juice, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and mint. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve immediately, garnishing with a little more cheese and some fresh black pepper.