Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad with Tomato Relish

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Just because a dish is healthy, does not mean that it can’t be absolutely delicious. This recipe proves that point without a doubt.

There is something truly magical about this salad. The strips of squash and zucchini are softened and have a texture like cooked pasta. The cherry tomato relish, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan create one of the best salads we’ve ever made, served, or eaten. These give our zucchini fritters a run for the money!

A straight-on view of two white bowls filled with a serving of zucchini and yellow squash salad topped with a cherry tomato relish, pine nuts, and shave parmesan cheese.

How To Make Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad

This dish is literally brimming with fresh garden flavors. And zucchini and squash are loaded with wonderful nutrients. Learn more about how great they are for good health here!

This dish is wonderful when the vegetables are in their prime during the spring and summer months, but it’s really good any time of the year!


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The Ingredients You Will Need

This recipe is all about garden-fresh vegetables and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Just a handful of ingredients to make a truly remarkable dish.

Here’s What You’ll Need To Have On Hand

Zucchini – No need peel them.
Yellow Squash – No need to peel them, either. Try and get similar sized zucchini and squash, but if you can’t, don’t worry.
Tomatoes – We love going with a variety of petite tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes are wonderful. But, you can also cut up a large tomato, too. Preferably homegrown!
Onion – Finely chopped red onion is perfect. If desired, soak the onions in apple cider vinegar to pickle them a bit, and give them a more mild taste.
Garlic – Minced.
Basil – Fresh, please. Chopped.
Oil – Extra-virgin, or good-quality olive oil is best.
Balsamic vinegar – Aged is fantastic. We like Modena.
Pine nuts – Lightly toasted to bring out the best flavor.
Parmesan – Get a block of it and then shave a little for garnishing the salad. Grated works just fine, too.

EXPERT TIP: A mandolin makes slicing the vegetables a snap. If you don’t have a mandolin, then use a sharp knife and a steady hand. The yellow squash sometime has a dense amount of seeds in the middle and will cause a few of the strips to fall apart. Just set those aside for another use.

A person using a mandolin slicer to cut a yellow squash into long thin strips that resemble sheets of yellow pasta.

Tips for Perfect Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad

Use a Mandolin To Slice the Zucchini and Squash – Though a knife will work, too, a mandolin ensures pasta-like sheets of veggies. Tasty and beautiful.

Soften With Salt – Placing the sliced zucchini and squash in a colander, liberally sprinkling them with salt, and then allowing them to rest for 20 minutes brings out moisture and makes them very soft and tender. Be sure to rinse the salt off.

Toast the Pine Nuts – Though not completely necessary, toasting the pine nuts brings out a nutty flavor that compliments the flavors in the salad wonderfully. Keep an eye on them, though, they will burn quickly if left in too long!

EXPERT TIP: We recommend letting the relish rest for about 30 minutes (or longer) before spooning over the zucchini and squash. The tomato will absorb the extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar and become a wonderful texture and flavor profile.

A person spooning a tri-color cherry tomato relish on top of thin slices of softened zucchini and yellow squash in a white dinner bowl.

How To Serve and Store

The zucchini and squash can be sliced and softened up to a couple of hours before serving. Don’t rinse the salt off until close to serving time. The relish can be made up to 12 hours in advance. And the pine nuts can be toasted up to 2 days in advance.

Once softened, the zucchini and squash layers can be shaped into beautiful “waves” in serving bowls. See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance.

Garnishing with shaved Parmesan is elegant and delicious, too. But, grated Parmesan works well, too. The salty cheese and nutty pine nuts work beautifully with the vegetables and balsamic.

A straight-on view of a bowl filled with a zucchini and yellow squash salad with tomato relish and fresh Parmesan shavings.

Other Amazing Vegetable Recipes to Try

Preparing dishes with farm-fresh vegetables is wonderful for so many reasons: They are good for you, beautifully colorful, festive, but most of all – absolutely delicious! Here are some of our favorite recipes that you’ll want to try:

Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad)
Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Bread
Yellow Squash Casserole
Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Scallion Dressing
Carrot and Raisin Salad
Slow-Cooker Asparagus Risotto
Pesto Pasta Salad with Potatoes and Green Beans

All of these dishes are a celebration of farm-fresh goodness. They are amazing, without a doubt. But, isn’t this salad right here catching your eye?

An overhead view of two bowls filled with a zucchini and yellow squash salad with tomato relish sitting next to another bowl filled with the tomato relish.

There is just something “ahhh” worthy about this salad.

When you first see it, it is truly awe-inspiring in its simple farm-fresh beauty. But, then you take that first bite.

It just doesn’t get much better! And, it’s good for you, too!

A person using a fork to hold up a softened strip of zucchini that is topped with tomato relish over a bowl of the same.

Ready to make the best veggie salad in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A straight-on view of a bowl filled with a zucchini and yellow squash salad with tomato relish and fresh Parmesan shavings.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad with Tomato Relish

This salad is a summertime favorite, for sure! After letting the zucchini and squash sit with the salt (which softens the veggies so they resemble sheets of cooked pasta), be sure to wash under cold water to remove the excess salt, and then dry using a kitchen cloth. So good! Especially when veggies are fresh from the garden!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy zucchini and squash salad recipe, how to soften zucchini and squash
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Toasting Pine Nuts and Salt Resting: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 267kcal


  • mandolin or a sharp knife and a steady hand


  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved, or 3 large tomatoes, cored and diced
  • ½ cup red onion chopped, or thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup basil fresh, chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish


  • Using a mandoline, or a sharp knife, cut each zucchini and squash lengthwise into slices about 1/8".
    2 zucchini, 2 yellow squash
  • Transfer slices to a large colander or bowl. Liberally sprinkle salt over the veggies, and toss to coat.
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Let stand for 20 minutes.
  • Gently rinse the slices under cold running water for several minutes to remove the salt.
  • Pat the slices dry with a kitchen towel and arrange in a loose mound on a plate or medium bowl.
  • In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes and their juices, onion, garlic, and basil and toss gently to mix.
    2 cups cherry tomatoes, ½ cup red onion, 3 garlic cloves, ¼ cup basil
  • Stir 2 tablespoons of the oil, balsamic, and a pinch of salt and pepper into the tomato mixture.
    3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the zucchini and squash and season with a few grinds of black pepper and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Spoon the tomato mixture over the zucchini and squash.
  • Top with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan.
    ½ cup pine nuts, Parmesan cheese


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video please subscribe to our YouTube channel
A mandolin works great for slicing the vegetables lengthwise, but be careful! A sharp knife and a steady hand will work, too. Try to slice them into 1/8-inch thickness. 
This salad is best served fresh. Leftovers are still tasty but will become very soft. 


Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 823mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 841IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in July 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in August 2023!

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