Zucchini Noodle Salad Recipe

In the heart of summer, when the zucchini I find at the greenmarket is the pocket-size kind that feels firm and bouncy with youth, all I want to do is eat it raw.

I really love (love, love!) shaving it for this zucchini tarte fine I shared a few summers ago, and I also like to cut it into sticks for dipping in muhammara or roasted eggplant and yogurt dip.

But most recently, my raw zucchini obsession has revolved around zucchini noodles: crisp, fresh, graceful on the plate, and so fun to eat.

Looking closely at the zucchini noodles on my plate that day, I had an epiphany.

The passion was ignited during a trip to Corsica one spring: at a sun-bleached restaurant on the isolated bay where we were staying, I was served a dish of fried calamari over zucchini noodles. Up until then, I’d been sure you needed a spiralizer to make them, and although the Benriner model had been on my wishlist for years, I’d stayed on the fence because I was not sure how well it worked, and reluctant to find room for such a bulky gadget.

But looking closely at the zucchini noodles on my plate that day, I had an epiphany: these were simply made with a mandoline slicer! A tool I already owned! And the very same one whose virtues I extolled when I wrote about grated carrots.

All you need to do is set up the mandoline slicer with the comb-like blade, and feed the zucchini through it along its full length, as if it were riding down a water slide*.

It is a little precarious, especially when you’re nearly done and only a thin portion of the zucchini remains, so be extra super mega careful, and use the kevlar glove that reader Elaine helpfully recommended, or at least the hand guard, however awkward and annoying it is. Alternatively, I’ve heard good things about julienne peelers such as this one, and it may be a good low-cabinet-occupancy option.

Mini Cookbook of Vegan Staples

To make noodles, you should use small and young zucchini: the bigger, older specimens have lots of seeds and slightly fibrous flesh in the middle, which won’t do well in noodle form. This means it isn’t the ideal use for the giant zucchini taking over your vegetable garden, unless you use only the outer parts and reserve the core for soup or stock.

And once you have your zucchini noodles in a glorious heap on your cutting board, you’ll find they’re quite versatile. I like to make a simple salad seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and cumin and sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds and purple basil, as in the recipe below.

But you can also dress them with:

Or, you can treat them like pasta and:

Although some recipes recommend blanching or microwaving the zucchini noodles for pasta-like uses, I prefer to keep them raw for optimal texture, and let the warm sauce or broth heat up the dish.

Join the conversation!

Do you make zucchini noodles, and how do you like to serve them? Do you covet or own a spiral slicer? What do you think: gadget or necessity?

Zucchini Noodles

* When I was a teenager, going to the Aquaboulevard water park was a popular outing. Riding the water slides was thrilling, but also a little scary because urban legend had it that unspecified people sometimes wedged razor blades in the grooves between the different sections of the slide so the skin on your legs would be gashed open as you slid down.

** This is the vegetarian cookbook issued by David Frankiel and Luise Vandahl Andersen of The Green Kitchen Stories. Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

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Zucchini Noodle Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

4 servings

Zucchini Noodle Salad Recipe


  • 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds) small zucchini, about 4
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I tried lime and it wasn't as good)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • a few sprigs fresh basil (green or purple), sliced or torn


  1. Trim the zucchini and slice it into noodle-like strips using a mandoline or spiral slicer.
  2. Transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and pepper, and use your clean hands to combine all the ingredients, working gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Divide among serving plates, lifting bunches of the noodles with your hand and creating pretty swirls. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and basil, and serve immediately.


The zucchini may be sliced and dressed a few hours before serving, but only add the salt at the last minute. Since it draws moisture out of the zucchini, it would soften it and cause its juices to pool at the bottom of the bowl.


This post was first published on August 7, 2013.

  • I love. I make noodles out of eggplants using just a knife, slicing and then cutting in circles (I cooked the “noodles” so it didn’t matter if they were thicker htan yours). I’ll have to try these!

    • Eggplant noodles! That sounds so good. I have trouble visualizing how you proceeded to slice them though. Do you think you could describe your method in a little more detail? Thank you!

  • I have a cheap julienne peeler that I bought in the Asia Store in Poitiers. It’s plastic with metal blades for doing ordinary peeling, grating ginger root, cutting wavy carrot rings and making long shreds (juliennes I suppose). I use it often for carrot and sometimes for zucchini. My husband doesn’t really like raw veg, but will eat it if I prep it with the julienne peeler. I love it, it only cost a couple of euro and it doesn’t take up much space in the drawer.

    • Love those super cheap utensils that turn out to be so handy! I love my corne, a flexible plastic scraper that’s so handy for dividing dough, scraping bowls, and scraping work surfaces. Best use of 1.15€ ever!

  • How timely is your post? I told my daughter this morning I was making a zucchini slice, and she mentioned that she didn’t like cooked zucchini. “Mummy, can’t we have raw zucchini instead?”
    Zucchini noodle salad it will be then!I even have some left over hoisin vinaigrette, that should go well with it. Thanks for saving the day Clotilde!!!

    • Happy to be of service! Let me know how your daughter likes it.

  • My tale of zuchini noodle salad comes in miniature!

    Because it’s high water content is easily released, remember that it is important to salt this salad at the very last minute to avoid turning the salad to a soup.

    • Absolutely — see note in the recipe. Thanks for the link!

  • Sorry, missed the note.

  • Beautiful zucchini noodles…Not sure I have the energy for them, though I love zucchini anything and just made a vat of zucchini soup. (Love it hot or cold.) Wanted to tell you I took your new book with me to read in the car…really enjoyed each moment. Thank you. Congrats on a beautiful book! (I’m just finishing writing a tiny book on soups and sides, so I have an idea of how much work it is.)

    • If you own a mandoline slicer, it’s actually less time-consuming to produce these noodles than to slice zucchini for a stir-fry or a soup. And no cooking either! :)

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the book. They mean a lot me!

  • Evelien

    I own the benriner model and I like it a lot. I made zucchini spaghetti a couple of times already, but recently I’ve been using it with potatoes. You can make little ‘nests’. A few drops of olive oil on top, sprinkle with salt & pepper and bake them in the oven. A bit like grated potato pancakes, but much crunchier. Bliss!

    • Now, that sounds absolutely wonderful! And thanks for reporting back on the Benriner spiralizer: do you own the vertical or the horizontal model?

  • I make them using a potato-peeler, which works well when I have the patience – I think maybe a mandoline would be better!

    Your recipe sounds great, and I expect I will try it next time I get small enough courgettes (my current ones are from my parents’ garden, and are a tad on the large side!). I also like to stir-fry the noodles in a bit of toasted sesame oil, with garlic.

    • So with the potato peeler, you get ribbon-like strands rather than spaghetti, is that right?

  • Sand

    These are a staple of our Paleo diet. Love them. The flavors of sauces are so much more apparent than with grain based noodles. I sometimes toss them in at the last second with “stir-fry” like dishes. Clotilde, thanks for the Magic Sauce recipe too. Looking forward to making Zoodles and using it with some almond butter.

  • Je ne connaissais pas cette histoire d’Aquaboulevard. Rétrospectivement, j’en suis malade !

    • Je crois que c’était juste pour faire peur aux petites filles, mais effectivement, je n’avais probablement pas jugé bon de te raconter ça à l’époque. :)

  • sillygirl

    I use that julienne peeler for carrots – the only way I found to get those long shreds that I love in Thai foods. It takes time but I find it easier than my mandoline to use. And by the way I look for large zucchini to make zucchini relish that we must have in cheese sandwiches – homemade toasted bread, the relish, slices of a good cheddar cheese, and lots of crunchy romaine lettuce although I think a spring mix might be good too. So don’t throw away those giant zucchini!

    • Ooh, do you have a recipe to share for your zucchini relish?

  • Mar

    I don’t know if anyone has already suggested this, but I make a seaweed pesto to go with my zucchini pasta. Basically, I used driedseaweed, oil, lemon, juice, salt, pepper and some ground almond. I copied it from a restaurant meal and I find the flavours go great together.

    • Fantastic idea. Could you share a rough formula to give us a sense of how much of each ingredient you use?

  • sillygirl

    Zucchini Relish
    10 cups zucchini slices
    4 cups onion slices
    2 green peppers
    2 red peppers
    Grind these to course consistency – I use an old-fashioned hand meat grinder.
    Mix in 1/3 cup salt and let it stand overnight in a cool place.
    Drain and rinse with cold water.
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    2 teaspoons mustard seed
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 teaspoon curry powder (here you can do your own mix if you want)
    1 teaspoon celery seed
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    2 1/2 cups vinegar
    4 1/2 cups sugar
    Mix and boil 20-30 minutes
    You can can it or freeze it.

    I have made this since the 70’s – it was a recipe from a friend.

    • Thanks for sharing! Anything you’ve been making for 30+ years has to be worth the trouble. :)

  • I know this is slightly different but I make raw noodles out of yellow beets with a potato peeler. They are a little flatter but spiral around in a lovely shape in the bowl. You could certainly use red beets but the yellow don’t stain your hands!

    • Fantastic idea, Rachel, I’ll try that when beets are back!

  • Ali

    I love that you’re showcasing zucchini noodles! I started a blog devoted to spiralized dishes – check it out, inspiralized.com! I love your blog and your recipes, I’m continuing to follow everyday!

    • What a fun topic for a blog! Lots of great ideas, thank you for sharing the link.

  • Maureen in Austin

    Clotilde, You’re a genius! I had no idea I loved raw zucchini, and how sublime to try them first as noodles. It worked perfectly on my mandoline. I made a salad of the noodles, adding perfectly ripe tomatoes and avocado before tossing in a tomato coriander vinaigrette and finishing with sel de Guerande. Could live on it, especially when it’s over 100 in Texas. This week you’ve given me three presents: The French Market, zucchini noodles and The Green Kitchen. Merci, Clotilde!

    • I’m delighted, Maureen, thank you for reporting back — your version of the salad sounds wonderful.

  • I was reading about raw veggie noodles in a cookbook and I kept thinking about buying one of those spiralizers but I couldn’t justify buying a tool for one function that I wouldn’t use often so I put it off… I can’t believe I didn’t think of using my mandoline! Thanks for the idea! I’m thinking of doing a Korean cold noodle dish with veggie noodles :)

    • Lovely idea! Will you report back and tell us about it?

  • Sue

    Clotilde, this looks wonderful and it reminds me of a wonderful dish I had recently at The Kitchen (a restaurant in Boulder CO, USA). It was ribbons of fresh zucchini tossed with a modest amount of olive oil and lemon juice, then tossed with crumbled chevre and chopped (salted) marcona almonds. It was the highlight of the meal – now I can’t wait to try your recipe too.

    • Thanks for sharing that bit of inspiration! It sounds like a wonderful variation. How wide were the ribbons? More like tagliatelle or papardelle?

      • Sue

        The ribbons were the width of the zucchini itself – I believe they just peeled strips with a vegetable peeler, or a mandoline. They were slightly “al dente” – I believe they marinated it just long enough for the ribbons to soften slightly, while still retaining a slight crunch.

        • Got it. It must have looked lovely, too!

  • Gary

    You can also salt the zucchini noodles and let them sit in a colander for 30-60 minutes. Rinse them well and give them a final rinse and shake to dry before using.

    This creates a softer, more flexible noodle that pairs well with many traditional pasta sauces (bolognese, marinara, alfredo, carbonara, etc.).

    • I actually prefer them to be crisp, but I’m making a note of your method for when I want them soft.

  • Oh I’m really excited now… I’m going to order that julienne peeler!

    Thanks for the inspiration, so much to try out.

    • You are most welcome. Do report back on your experiments.

  • Kim

    We’ve enjoyed “zoodles” or zucchini noodles in many ways since we stopped eating grains a few years ago. Clotilde, I do love the Benriner mandolin! And have the scars on my fingers to prove the use. Get the protective glove save yourself lots of agony!

    The flavor of the zucchini like this is is so fresh and really enhances everything you serve it with compared to grain based noodles.

    A favorite at parties is the Pad Thai version made with Almond butter. I like this one. There are lots of variations on the web.

    • The recipe looks great, Kim, thanks for sharing the link!

  • Hi. What a wonderful salad and blog. I will be back :)

  • Kristin

    I made zucchini noodles last night (before I saw your post), and ate them with a tomato sauce…in an attempt to keep up with mountains of garden produce. I just had the leftovers for breakfast—they were so incredibly delicious! I used some monster zukes but did as you suggest and avoided the softer, seedy core. The noodle texture was astonishingly good, satisfying, with that lovely al dente bite I crave in pasta. I hand cut my noodles which was slightly tedious but absolutely worth it. I also cooked them briefly in a microwave before saucing. Texture was still nice and firm, even for breakfast this morning. I am now dying to try eggplant noodles, but I might invest in a slicer first. :)

    • Your take sounds delicious, thanks for sharing!

  • Shruti

    Hi Clotilde

    I started out making the zoodle salad and ended up with zuke granita. Although not intended, this was absolutely spectacular in the +40 deg Delhi heat! :D

    It reminded me of a limon gelato on a hot summer afternoon in Rome … But with a cumin and pepper kick following the initial sour sweet notes. And this had bite because of zucchini strands.

    Here’s what I did differently:

    – I don’t have a mandoline slicer or box grater. Too lazy to julienne by hand! So I used the cheap cheese grater that you get at IKEA. So instead of noodles, I had fine strands and a lot more water.

    – my mum makes a supremely tasty roasted cumin and pepper rough hewn powder, which I used as a shortcut. It is much more fragrant.

    – Lemons (ie Italian lemons) are not grown in India and are very expensive. So I went ahead and used lime juice. You’re absolutely right that it is too strong for the salad, but it’s perfect in the granita. Also, while tasting for pungency, I found it too sour. So added 1 packet Splenda (=2 tsp sugar).

    – after mixing zuke and dressing (sans sel Marin) it was way too watery. So I stuck it in the freezer instead of the fridge.

    Imagine my surprise when I found my salad frozen by the evening. :) so I just took a fork and broke up ice. The Zulu strands were beautifully crystalline. I didn’t bother with pumpkin seeds or salt and proceeded to have a bowl-ful. I’m still salivating.

    • That sounds so lovely and flavor-packed and refreshing Shruti, thank you for reporting back! I love it when a recipe just morphs into something else.

  • Shruti

    Oh I forgot to mention – I had my zucchini granita with a tangy creamy chicken in mustard & cream sauce and sautéed (actually flambé-d) chanterelle and button mushrooms.

    • All right, you’re just making me hungry now! :)

      • Shruti

        It was good. :)

        I’m only starting to realise how good food contributes to happiness quotient! :D

  • Becky at Vintage Mixer

    Thanks so much for including a link to my recipe!! I’m a big zucchini noodle fan :)

  • kwackett@aol.com

    I heat a little olive oil in a pan, add a bunch of halved Juliettes ( small roma-type tomatoes) from the garden, let them soften, add a clove of sliced garlic to soften as well; then add julienned zucchini noodles to the pan with some salt and plenty of ground pepper;, cook for only maybe 5 minutes -then finish with chiffonade of basil and some grated Parmesan cheese. Light and delicious!

    • That sounds really lovely — maybe lunch for today as I have everything on hand!

  • Maria @ www.Mariasnotes.ca

    So glad I read this just before ordering this years seeds. Here in Canada I am still buried under a lot of snow but nice time to dream of gardening time ahead and eating from the garden all summer long.Any suggestions which variety is a winner?

    • I’m sorry that I have zero gardening experience and can’t help with varieties!

    • engfradeu

      Maria I know this is half a year old, but for next year: look for courge longue de Nice, also known as a courge violon and courgette trompette. They’re an heirloom variety from Nice and they are amazing – much better than a typical courgette. The courgettes (zucchini) are delicious, and the mature squash are like butternut, but better. (I lived for years in the south of France, and we got them often from our AMAP/CSA farm share in both summer and winter) I don’t have a garden at the moment, but when I do, I will plant some of them!
      An example:

  • I love zucchini noodles with organic marinara sauce! You just want to make sure the sauce doesn’t have added sugars. Trader joes has a great one :). I usually also add sautéed tomatoes, red onion, black or green olives, and mushrooms to the sauce to make it a bit more exciting!

    • I seldom buy ready-made pasta sauces, but I should keep a jar on hand for a quick zucchini noodle dish, thanks for the suggestion!

  • I used to really question ‘zoodles’, mainly because I just love pasta so much – but once I started looking at them as a totally different type of meal, I was hooked! Such a great meal for summer.

    • I agree! It’s just like spaghetti squash: you appreciate it better if you don’t think of it as spaghetti at all. :)

  • http://www.sticksandshakes.com

    I must have to try this recipe…

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