A white bowl containing Mediterranean zucchini noodle and tomato salad

NOURISHMENT – Recipe for Success

Mediterranean Zucchini Tomato Salad

By Elle Penner, MPH RD

I’ll be the first to admit that, by itself, zucchini can be a bit bland. But what it lacks in flavor on its own, it more than makes up for in versatility. The beauty of this summertime garden staple is that it easily absorbs flavor—making it the perfect veggie to puree into a tasty pesto, spiralize for a plate of “zoodles” or even stir into a satisfying bowl of morning “zoats” sprinkled with brown sugar.

This simple Mediterranean zucchini salad features crisp zucchini and summer squash “noodles” tossed in a flavor-packed feta dressing, and it is topped with juicy cherry tomatoes, plump Kalamata olives, fresh herbs, more feta and that delicious dressing.

This salad makes a perfect summer party side, but it also can double as dinner with the addition of some canned chickpeas for boost of satiating protein and fiber. Oh, and the leftovers taste great tucked into a soft piece of pita bread.

No spiralizer? No problem. Grab a vegetable peeler and slice the zucchini and squash lengthwise into “ribbons” or into paper-thin rounds with your chef’s knife. However you slice it, the key is to maximize surface area so the zucchini and summer squash can quickly absorb all of those delicious flavors.

For my fellow food preppers out there, the dressing and veggies can be prepared up to three days in advance. Just store the ingredients in separate airtight containers in the fridge—and add a paper towel to your vegetable noodles to absorb excess moisture. For the freshest taste and texture, add the dressing 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Zucchini Tomato Salad

MAKES: 4-6 side salads or 2-3 meal-size salads

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ ounces feta cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium-large zucchini (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 small summer squash (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 12-14 cherry tomatoes, halved (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ cup whole Kalamata olives (about 15-18)
  • ¾ cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed (optional)

DIRECTIONS

For the dressing:

In a small bowl or mug, combine 2 ounces feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Alternatively, mash feta with a fork and whisk remaining dressing ingredients together until mostly smooth. Set the dressing aside.

For the salad:

Spiralize zucchini and summer squash into a large serving bowl. Add basil, mint, 3 tablespoons dressing and toss to coat.

Add cherry tomatoes, olives, garbanzo beans (if desired) and remaining feta cheese. Top with the rest of the dressing and more freshly ground black pepper, if desired. For the best taste and texture, allow the salad to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Because of the water-releasing nature of the zucchini and summer squash, this salad is best when served within 1 hour of being dressed.

NOTES

The dressing and ingredients can be prepared ahead of time. Store everything in separate airtight containers in the fridge and add a paper towel to your vegetable noodles to absorb excess moisture.

Video and photo credit: Elle Penner, MPH RD

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Author

Elle Penner, MPH RD

Elle Penner is a registered dietitian and former lead dietitian at MyFitnessPal, turned full-time writer, recipe creator, photographer, blogger and mama. Her favorite things include her camera, carbs, sweaty workouts and her son.

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