Upgrade your zucchini noodle and pasta salad game with wide, crunchy ribbons in a refreshing recipe for Zucchini Pasta Salad tossed with a garlicky lemon vinaigrette.
I’m always playing around with different textures, flavors and cuisines when it comes to pasta salad. There are just so many different directions you can take. Do you go creamy or vinegary? Do you add bacon? Avocado? Cheese? The options are endless!
This obsession is exactly how I landed on my newest favorite pasta salad starring raw zucchini ribbons, protein-packed garbanzo beans, crunchy pistachios, sundried tomatoes and one seriously stellar lemony vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, garlic and honey. Put it all together and we have a bright, crunchy, salty and satisfying Zucchini Pasta Salad!
Can You Put Raw Zucchini in Pasta Salad?
Yes indeed! Raw zucchini is amazing in pasta salad and tastes even better once marinated in this zippy, vinegary, mustard-based dressing. You will want to make sure its marinated closer to serving time to keep the zucchini crunchy and fresh, so do keep that timing in mind. Unlike other mostly-pasta salads, this one is at its peak the day it’s made.
How to Make Zucchini Ribbons
A vegetable peeler is key to creating thin, tender ribbons of raw zucchini. I love using a wider vegetable peeler, but if you have a more narrow peeler (like one you’d use for peeling carrots), that will produce noodles slightly more thick than zoodles, but still no less delicious.
There’s also no need to peel any skin off first, just simply peel all the way down to create these long ribbons. For speed and the utmost consistency of thickness, turn to a trusty mandoline slicer.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Last In the Fridge?
Since the ideal here is to keep your raw zucchini fresh (and not soggy) with plenty of crunch, you’ll want to omit the toppings (like feta and pistachios) to maintain optimal freshness. The zucchini will start to really absorb the marinade after 24 hours, so it’s best to enjoy this salad within a day of mixing up.
In general, pasta salad only gets better as the dressing marinates all the pasta and toppings overnight. So whether you’re making it ahead of time or want to know how to safely store it for tomorrow’s lunch, vinegar-based pasta salads are still delicious 3 to 4 days after they’re prepared. If you opt for a creamier dressing (like this Southwestern Pasta Salad with Avocado Dressing), you’ll want to serve that up closer to when you want to enjoy it as they’ll stay fresh in the fridge for about two days.
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Make the dressing:
In a large bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and honey. While whisking, stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper then set it aside.
Make the pasta salad:
Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, cut the zucchini into very fine ribbons then add them to the bowl with the dressing, tossing to combine. (See Kelly’s Note.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the zucchini, then add the red onion, chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes and toss to combine.
Stir in the feta cheese and pistachios and serve immediately or store, covered securely with plastic wrap, in the fridge until ready to serve.
Because the zucchini isn’t cooked in this recipe, it’s important to toss it with the dressing and let it sit while you make the rest of the pasta salad. This will allow the zucchini to soften slightly and also absorb the flavor of the dressing.
This recipe can be made one day in advance, storing the pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Omit the feta and pistachios from the salad until ready to serve.
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