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!
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.
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!