Mediterranean Zucchini Noodle Salad

Think Italian sub in veggie form. That may sound like a strange comparison (and you might say hoagie, depending on where you’re from), but it’s a pretty good way to sum up this satisfying seasonal salad.  Spoiler: there’s an easy way to convert this into a flavor-packed pasta salad, because who doesn’t love a delicious recipe that’s versatile, too?

With a seemingly endless supply of garden-fresh zucchini (sound familiar?), I made this dish quite often last summer.  My family has given its official stamp of approval, which is especially noteworthy when what they think are noodles are, in fact, vegetables!  It’s also a convenient dish to take to sick friends, new parents, or anyone who might just enjoy a little something special.  Most recently, I made this for a relative who had knee surgery because the array of savory flavors seemed to have her name on it.

Speaking of meal deliveries, if you’re looking for something that would complement this salad, this foolproof roasted chicken recipe is an easy option that garners consistently high marks–and the low cooking temperature won’t overheat your kitchen when the mercury outside is soaring.  This longtime favorite is a winning accompaniment if you’re in a grilling mood.  

Of course, you can’t go wrong with simply grilled steak…or burgers or salmon or shrimp or nearly any protein that suits your fancy. (For extra Mediterranean flavor, use the Absolutely Famous Greek dressing, shown below the recipe, as a marinade.)  But thanks to choice add-ins like feta, salami, and olives, a plateful of this salad may be all you need on a hot summer day.

Last May, I shared this recipe as part of a feature on cookout side dishes in Susquehanna Style magazine. When the first squash blossoms of the season reared their pretty yellow heads, it occurred to me that I’d never shared the recipe here.

And we can never have too many ways to keep up with summer’s steady supply of zucchini, right? 😀

Mediterranean Zucchini Noodle Salad
As an option to the zucchini noodles, I sometimes make this recipe as a traditional pasta salad using 12 ounces of short, tubular or spiraled pasta. A seeded and chopped cucumber and/or garbanzo beans are other complementary add-ins. When using regular pasta, I do like to double the vinaigrette recipe.

Yield: 4-6 servings
For the vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the salad
  • 1-1/2 pounds (about 3 medium) zucchinis (may use in combination with summer squash)
  • 1 (13- to 14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts in water, well drained and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese*
  • 3/4 cup (3-1/2 to 4 ounces) cubed salami
  • 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 small (about 1/2 cup) red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup pitted and quartered black olives (Kalamatas are a good choice)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (could use 1 to 2 cups baby spinach, arugula, or greens of choice)
Instructions
  1. First, spiralize the zucchini. (I like to use the thicker of the two blades so the “zoodles” have a little more bite.) Then place the zucchini noodles in a colander, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss well, and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour. When ready to add the sauce, use a clean tea towel or two sturdy, lint-free paper towels and squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini. Zucchini has a very high water content and this will create a better texture noodle and prevent the sauce from becoming watered down.
  2. Make the vinaigrette. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake to combine. The vinaigrette may be made up to several days in advance and refrigerated.
  3. Once the zucchini has been squeezed to remove the excess water, transfer it to a large bowl, and add the artichoke hearts, feta cheese, salami, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and parsley. Pour the dressing over the salad (I start with about 3/4 of it, adding more to taste), and toss to combine thoroughly.
Notes
  • *If you don’t care for feta, you could substitute an equal amount of mozzarella or provolone cheese, cut into small cubes. If not using the feta, you may also wish to add a little more salt to taste.
  • Tip: If you’d like shorter, more manageable “noodles”—think rotini instead of spaghetti–simply make a slit (long-ways from tip to end) halfway through the zucchini before spiralizing. This will create half moon-type pieces. If you don’t do this, you may still wish to snip the long strands into shorter pieces after spiralizing for easier eating later.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
If you have an abundance of zucchini and your spiralizer is handy, you may wish to try Zucchini Noodles in Rustic Tomato Sauce.  (Don’t have a spiralizer?  Pre-shredded zucchini is now widely available in most large grocery stores.)If you’re craving more Mediterranean flavor, Absolutely Famous Greek Dressing and Marinade adds life to a variety of green and grain-based salads and makes a marvelous marinade for chicken.

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