Made with fresh summer produce, this Three Herb Tomato Zucchini Salad is Paleo, Vegan, and Whole30-friendly to fit all your needs. Make it ahead of time as the perfect side dish for barbecues, picnics, weeknight dinners, and everything in between!
This is salad number 2 of Salad Week! In case you missed it, check out Mason Jar salad recipes here. And of course check out our Instagram stories or even more delicious salads!
The Best Tomato Zucchini Salad Everyone Loves
In my opinion, one of the best parts about summer is all the fresh produce that becomes available! With one stroll through a farmer’s market or even your local grocery store, you can find an abundance of fresh watermelon, summer squash, peaches, bell peppers, and so much more. It’s hard not to want to buy them all, especially with recipes like my Cajun Smoked Salmon Zucchini Noodles Salad, Coconut Rice and Watermelon Salad Bowls, and Family Style Deconstructed Stuffed Bell Pepper Bowls!
I love it all, but tomatoes and zucchini are two of my favorites. Unfortunately, my husband does not agree with me. That is, until it comes to this zucchini salad recipe! Admittedly, he’s not a huge fan of either on their own. However, something magical happens when you combine them together with fresh herbs and spices, and even the most adamant tomato-hater becomes a fan. Even better, this recipe is light, refreshing, and healthy without even trying!
Ready to learn the secrets? Keep reading to find out what you need, how to prepare it, and more.
Summer Fresh Ingredients, Their Benefits, & Alternatives
- Cherry Tomatoes – Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, lycopene, and more. As a result, they may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and cancers. I used cherry tomatoes, but feel free to use any you have on hand.
- Zucchini – Zucchini is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including vitamin A, vitamin C, and carotenoids. They help contribute to healthy digestion, reduce blood sugar levels, and improve cholesterol levels just to name a few benefits. Similar to zucchini, yellow summer squash can be used as well.
- Shallot – part of the onion family, shallots are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants such as vitamins B, A, C, potassium, iron, and magnesium. They can be included in a healthy diet to help improve heart health, relieve allergy symptoms, and boost immunity. However, red onion can be used as well to provide tons of flavor and similar health benefits.
- Herbs – Fresh herbs can be used to prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, increase immunity, and reduce inflammation.
- Sumac – A unique enhancing ingredient, sumac is rich in antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and muscle pain.
Simple and delicious, this tomato zucchini salad makes for a perfect side dish, but it can easily be bulked up to create a filling meal. To do so try adding a few ingredients such as those listed below.
- Protein – Shredded chicken is a great way to add lean protein to this dish to make it a well-rounded and filling meal. However, steak, shrimp, and fish all work as well!
- Aged or Raw Cheese – For added fats and extra creaminess, try adding mozzarella balls, goat cheese, or even feta to this recipe.
- Quinoa and Chickpeas – Toss in a few cups of cooked quinoa and chickpeas, and you’ve got yourself a fiber rich plant based meal! Bonus – Quinoa and chickpeas are also high in plant based protein and iron!
How to Make Cold Zucchini Salad
Full of bright colors and coated with an oil marinade, you might think this recipe requires elaborate preparation, but it really couldn’t be any easier! All you have to do is place the sliced tomatoes and zucchini in a serving bowl.
Then, slice the shallot, and let it soak in lemon juice. This helps tone down the bite of raw onions mellowing the flavor so you can taste all the other superstar ingredients as well! In the meantime, chop the herbs, and combine them in a small bowl.
Pro-Tip: To chop herbs with ease, take a look at this video!
Next, combine the olive oil, sumac, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon to juice together in a bowl, and pour it over the tomatoes and zucchini.
Note: 2-3 tablespoons of oil is sufficient to coat the ingredients thanks to the high water content of zucchini, but if you really want to coat the vegetables like a dressing, feel free to add another tablespoon.
To finish, add in the shallots (discarding the lemon juice) and herbs, toss the salad, and garnish it with extra lemon slices and salt and pepper to taste.
Become a Produce Picking Pro
It might come as no surprise that the key to creating the tastiest raw zucchini salad is to use the best produce you can find. So, to make sure you’re not left with a rotten tomato or a bland zucchini, I’m giving you a few of my top produce picking tips.
To find the perfect tomato, look for one that is bright red and free from any blemishes or bruises. Next, opt for one that feels heavy for its size and feels firm but not hard. You want your tomato to be soft but retain its shape if gently squeezed. If it passes these tests, give it a sniff near the stem and make sure it has an aromatic smell.
Once you’ve found your tomatoes, it’s time to move on to zucchini. For the best flavor, you’ll want to look for dark green squash that are fairly thin. Ideally, your zucchini should be no bigger than 6-8 inches long. They will also have a smooth exterior free from any nicks or bruises. The freshest zucchini will have tiny bristles of hair that can be removed by simply rubbing while washing under cold water.
What is Sumac: Sumac is a flowering shrub that produces large clusters of bright red, pea-sized fruits. There are more than 200 different species that grow all around the world, and the berries are used to make teas or dried and turned into a powder commonly used in Middle Eastern and South African recipes. It has a deep purple or red tone and has a slightly sour or acidic flavor that is used to compliment a wide variety of ingredients such as chicken, lamb, salad dressings, and more.
Not only is it a tasty ingredient, it also provides a wide variety of health benefits. For example, it’s packed with vitamins C, B6, B1, B2, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber. As a result, it can help lower blood sugar, alleviate muscle pain, and improve digestion.
Can I Use Dried Herbs?
I do not recommend using dried herbs as it will change the flavor and texture of the dish.
This recipe is perfect to make ahead of time as a cold zucchini salad. Making it ahead of time will allow the ingredients to chill and the flavors to really soak in. For easy storage, place your zucchini salad in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
More of Our Favorite
Summer Salad Recipes
Three Herb Tomato Zucchini Salad
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Three Herb Tomato Zucchini salad is the best of summer’s produce made into a healthy marinated vegetable salad! This easy zucchini salad recipe is paleo, vegan, and whole30 friendly.
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (red and yellow), halved
- 1 large zucchini (or 2 small) – unpeeled & sliced into thin rounds then halved
- 1 shallot sliced (or ⅓ cup red onion chopped) – Soak in 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped fresh herbs combined
- Italian parsley
- 3 –4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 teaspoon garlic or two cloves
- sea salt and crushed pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon extra lemon juice
- lemon slices to garnish
- In a large serving bowl, place the halved tomatoes and zucchini rounds.
- Slice your shallot (or red onion) and soak in 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. Set aside.
- Chop your herbs and place in a small bowl. Toss together.
- Combine your olive oil, sumac, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon to juice together in a bowl. Whisk together. Pour over your tomatoes and zucchini.
- Add in your soaked shallot slices (discard the lemon juice), herbs, and toss again.
- Garnish with extra lemon slices and salt/pepper to taste.
- Serve right away or store in airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Feel free to use summer squash or larger tomatoes if desired. The more the salad soaks in the dressing, the more flavorful it becomes, but the tomatoes will also become a bit softer.
- 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil is sufficient, due to the water content of the zucchini, but feel free to add an additional tablespoon to really coat all the vegetables, like a dressing.
- Prep Time: 10
- Category: salad
- Method: chop
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 84
- Sugar: 0.7 g
- Sodium: 586.6 mg
- Fat: 8.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 1.9 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Protein: 0.5 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: salad, zucchini, paleo, whole 30, vegan, healthy, tomato salad, herbs marinated
What’s your favorite Summer salad? Best childhood Summer memory? No really, I want to know! I’m sure many of you have some pretty awesome stories!
Do you peel? Slice? Chop? Or shave the zucchini?
sliced and unpeeled. I have that in the instructions but can update it to be more clear. Hope that helps!
I made this salad with a mixture of zucchini and yellow summer squash. I _did not_ have fresh herbs on hand and used dried ones. But I am here to tell you that after a day of sitting, it was good. NEXT TIME I will make it with fresh herbs because the flavors will dependably pop better. My husband liked this and said it was a do-over. I did have sumac on hand. It is easily gotten from Penzeys. Perfect combo for my CSA abundance of squash and cherry tomatoes.
Love your substitutes! Thanks for the feedback Janet!
Wanting to try this recipe, but thinking of using Cilantro instead of Parsley. Also can’t find summac so going to leave that out. How will this alter the taste? Should I add or take away any ingredients if I make the above changes?
Are you using Italian parsley? That should work just won’t be as strong flavor but still nice. As for sumac you can substitute with a pinch of paprika and lemon zest!
I was looking for a healthy and refreshing side dish for a BBQ I’m hosting, and this recipe appears to fit the bill! Quick question – I can’t seem to find sumac at any of my local grocers, and I’m not sure I will have time to go to a Middle Eastern grocery. Would the taste alter by much if I leave out the sumac? There didn’t seem to be great alternatives online except for maybe adding more lemon juice and pepper. Appreciate the help!
Totally fine! It just helps with the acidity. You could add a touch more lemon or lemon zest!
This put my summer tomatoes to good work. So good.
This salad was insanely delicious! My entire family loved it.
Such a flavor-packed and delicious salad!! I couldn’t wait to make this again! Thanks for the recipe!
So glad! Thanks for feedback Toni!
Seriously this is the best summer salad! I love it!!
We enjoyed this a lot. Like others I added extra water. I puréed the soup for three minutes in the blender, did not strain it, and there was no problem with corn kernels.
You made it into a soup? That’s a great idea!
My goodness, this salad is so yummy! It’s bright and fresh and full of flavor. We will be making it all season long.
I made this over the summer and loved it. I still make it almost monthly! It’s my perfect lunch.
This was absolutely delicious! I shaved the zucchini into ribbons. I warmed the garlic in the olive oil to mellow the flavor and it makes a huge difference! I liked the onion in lemon juice trick too. Great use of my garden bounty! Fresh veggies and herbs! Thanks! Didn’t have paprika so tried some cajun seasoning which worked out great!
So glad to hear that Sheila! Thanks!
WOW! This is going into the meal rotation. Great summer salad – healthy and oh so delicious!
Oh I am so glad you enjoyed it. It’s a favorite here too!
This dish, looks very attractive, I will try it.
YUM! This has me wishing summer would last longer!
I could look at these pictures for hours.
Cassie Autumn Tran
What a beautifully striking and healthy salad! Tomatoes and zucchini are the best combination in the world!
So good with the zucchini and tomatoes from my garden!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean
Your garden sounds like a dream.. I bet you have so many good memories with your dad there. It’s been years since I had my own garden.. it’s been reduced down to an herb patch, so I can appreciate your herbacious zucchini salad here. SO fresh and packed with flavor. This is how I looove salads! So beautifully captured!
Oh i think we should start our own traveling garden. LOL! yes?
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
This is EXACTLY what we need right now. Vegas finally moved in, but she arrived sick AF. Fresh, light meals are the name of the game. Le sigh.
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious
I wish I could get a garden to grown in Phoenix. Everything just needs too much water!
Oh man, you need one of those indoor gardens, right? Brutal heat! p.s how are you?
I see 3 garlic cloves in the picture. I also see two different shades of red spice in the picture, I am assuming one is the sumac. However, in the recipe, no mention of how much garlic or sumac to use. Can you please specify, especially the sumac? Thank you.
Just updated it. THANK YOU! Sorry my recipe plugin had a glitch and deleted part of the ingredients.Phew! Glad you got it Rita!
Perfect summer salad! My summer salad go-to involves tomatoes as well (sun-dried or fresh), and asparagus, artichokes, romaine… yum. Favorite childhood summer memory = my visits to Martha’s Vineyard (and I still go there to this day).
Oh I love that memory Liz! Thank you for sharing. Martha’s Vineyard is still on my bucket list!
If you do plan to go, you better consult me for my top recommendations! 🙂 xo
This is a great little post with some valuable tips. I totally agree. The way you bring passion and engagement into the things you do can really change your outlook on live.
Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite
I just picked tons of zucchini AND tomatoes from my garden this weekend, so perfect timing for this recipe!
Oh yay! Keep me posted on if you try this Brittany!
I can eat this all day long!
and you so should!
What vibrant pops of color! Love how refreshing this is and so easy!