Summer Squash Salad with Lemon Citronette

Summer squash salad with lemon citronette

This salad was supposed to be a cake. I mean, I meant for today’s post to be a honey-sweetened, berry-studded, lemon-infused cake. I thought my second attempt at the cake would be just right, but I ran out of eggs and tried to get away with two instead of three. This is what happened. On the upside, I have an excuse to eat cake for breakfast over the next week. I can’t decide which I love more: cake for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner?

zucchini and yellow squash

Instead of cake, I decided to share a delightful summer salad today. The salad features ribboned squash tossed with feta, pine nuts and a lemon vinaigrette. It’s refreshing and crisp, a perfect side for a light summer meal. I think it would go great with a light pasta dish or grilled fish and a glass of chilled white wine. If you haven’t tried raw squash, I hope you’ll get out your vegetable peeler and give it a try. It’s my favorite way to eat squash.

lemon citronette and squash ribbons

This recipe comes from a new cookbook called Small Gatherings, which I received from the publisher. It’s filled with fresh, inspired menus for seasonal entertaining. I don’t have a proper dining area so I don’t entertain often, but I’d like to someday. The menus are built around meaty main courses, but the meals are very produce focused as a whole. The photos are lovely, too, so I thought the book deserved a proper mention.

Side note, did you know that citrus-based vinaigrettes are sometimes called citronettes? Now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense because the word vinaigrette implies vinegar. Citronette is the most adorable word I’ve come across in a long time. It makes me think of dancing cartoon clementines.

ribboned summer squash saladsummer squash salad recipe

Summer Squash Salad with Lemon Citronette
5.0 from 6 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Raw, ribboned yellow and green squash tossed with an herbed lemon vinaigrette, pine nuts and feta cheese. Buy the freshest, smallest squash you can find (local/organic will have the best flavor). Salting the squash helps draw out excess moisture, so allow 20 minutes for that step (unless you're really pinched for time, in which case, skip it).
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (or slivered almonds or sunflower seeds)
  • 2 pounds mixed baby zucchini and yellow squash
  • Salt
  • ½ to 1 cup quality feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint (or tarragon)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the squashes into paper-thin ribbons, starting on one side and making quarter turns until you reach the seedy core. Spread the ribbons on a cutting board, sprinkle liberally with salt, and let them sit for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the nuts until they are turning golden and fragrant, stirring frequently.
  3. Make the citronette: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, garlic, thyme, mint and parsley. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is well blended. Set aside until you're ready to serve.
  4. Rinse the squash and gently pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels. Place in a serving bowl (if you are not serving the salad immediately, refrigerate the squash until later).
  5. Right before serving, whisk the citronette last time. Toss the squash with the feta, pine nuts and citronette. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Small Gatherings: Seasonal Menus for Cozy Dinners by Jessica Strand.
Storage suggestions: Leftover salad will keep well in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Change it up: Feel free to change up the fresh herbs; you'll need about one tablespoon chopped herbs in total.
Make it vegan: Omit the feta and make up for it with sliced kalamata olives or capers.
Make it nut free: Simply use sunflower seeds for the salad base instead of pine nuts.


  1. says

    Salad is definitely easier to handle than a cake in this heat! I don’t know if I’ll be able to summon the willpower to turn on the oven for several days at least. :) Raw zucchini and lemon sound just fantastic together.

    • says

      Thanks, Eileen! It’s not terribly hot here yet, thank goodness, so I haven’t shut off my oven for the summer yet. :)

  2. says

    Lovely! I’ve grown to really enjoy ribboned vegetables. They’re awesome. I don’t even care if it’s called vinaigrette or citron estate (though you make a good point regarding the two names).

  3. says

    This sounds great! I also love my summer squash in raw form, either in ribbons or spiralized into noodles. Of course, there’ll always be a special place in my heart for grilled squash, which I’ve been eating my fair share of lately! Regarding the citronette thing, I did not know that, but I like it! I don’t think it makes the salad sound pretentious… just classy! Thanks for sharing the Small Gatherings cookbook… I am SUCH a sucker for any sort of cookbooks, especially if they have photos, so I’m off to investigate this one!

  4. says

    I think citronette is a lovely name! When I think about it, I make citronettes much more often than vinaigrettes anyway. And raw squash is delicious! This salad looks so crisp and summery.

  5. says

    Ooooo tough call. Breakfast for dinner or cake for breakfast? I like both!!! Citronette, who knew! I am going to use that word from now on!

  6. says

    We SHOULD be calling those dressings citronettes – you’re so right. It doesn’t make sense to automatically plug in the vinegar implications. I’m sad we didn’t get cake today, Kate, but this is a worthy substitution. I get in such a rut with summer squash and end up cooking it the same way over and over – can’t wait to try this!

  7. says

    This sounds just lovely! Summer squash always tempt me at the market, I love new ideas for how best to show them off. I love your style! So thankful for the wonderful, colorful, healthful inspiration you bring us here. Glad you’re enjoying cake for breakfast — I would much rather eat this salad so, we all win! :)

  8. says

    This is definitely swoon worthy!! I love raw summer squash. It’s sweet and delicious especially when paired with lemony citronette :)

  9. says

    One of the veggies I look forward to the most every summer is squash. This salad looks like the perfect way to prepare it so the flavors shine!

  10. says

    I’ve had similar cake disasters but at least, even if they don’t look good, they almost always are still deliciously edible! I don’t eat zucchini or summer squash raw much but I do love it marinated in lemony dressings. Sounds like a lovely summer side!

  11. Becky says

    Amazing recipe! Served over salad greens and added a little apple cider vinegar to dressing and extra parsley in the salad. My husband love it. Would serve to company

  12. Claire says

    Had this for Sunday Dinner last night as a side to grilled salmon and peaches. I used a mandoline to slice and it made the ribbons thicker. I think the veggie peeler would make the dish more delicate and I will use next time, but the upside is that
    they were more sturdy and so can eat for leftovers. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. says

    This is one of my favorite ways to prepare summer squash- I love your addition of feta cheese! Can’t wait until we have some zucchini ready to pick in the garden :)

  14. says

    Made this for a small Independence Day cookout and everyone loved it! I used thyme, basil, and parsley. The feta really made it. Leftovers were quite good two days later.

  15. says

    I love making zucchini noodles!! I made a zucchini noodle salad last year with a spicy peanut sauce. Your ribbon like noodles are just perfect!

  16. Charlotte says

    I fed this salad to my squash-phobic best friend (worry not – she has MANY other redeeming qualities), with no comment as to the ingredients until dessert. She loved it! It’s also the perfect recipe for using up my CSA bounty of zucchini, many thanks, Kate!

    • says

      Woohoo, victory! Hope my salad convinces your friend to change her mind about squash! I love it raw like this. Thank you for commenting, Charlotte.

  17. Jackie C. says

    OMG this was suberb!!! the toasted pine nuts made this! Gives it a whole new depth of flavor!
    PS – love your blogs!! :)

  18. Britt says

    Just made this, and it was absolutely delicious :) I’ve never had raw squash before, but this really exceeded my expectations!

  19. Marie says

    This was a sure hit this summer! The first time I made it we had it as a starter with a glass of sparkling rosè wine (awesome!). It was such a hit I later served it as a side to some grilled fish and to my parents in law (had to share the recipe with my mother in law afterwards). I have tried with a frew different cheeses like pamesan and a tasty local goat cheese, all worked well. I probarbly used more lemon juice than the receipe ask for as I like a good tang… I really like that you can prepeare the squash and citronette (love the word too!) and then just mix it together when the guests arrive :) Again, thanks!

  20. Tarrah says

    This was phenomenal. My first foray into raw zucchini and I may never go back. I made it with fresh tarragon and it was magical.

  21. Nancy says

    Hi …I’m in the middle of trying this for the first time and can’t wait to taste it all. Question…I salted per the directions to draw our excess water but then when it gets rinsed, doesn’t the water just go back into it? I googled other raw ‘ribbon’ salads and none call for the salting step. Just curious if this is a ‘skippable’ step as I have four cookie sheets covered in salted squash at the moment! thanks for clarifying. Cheers!

    • says

      Nancy, I’m so sorry, I’m way late in answering your question. I hope your salad turned out terrific. I believe that you could skip the salting step, but it does make for a more flavorful final result. I’m not sure how the water isn’t absorbed back into the squash, but it doesn’t seem to work that way!

  22. Ruly Montano says

    I love this recipe! Just added half an orange’s juice to the citronette and some sugar snap peas to the salad, delicious! Thank you!

Leave a comment below:

Your comments make my day. Thank you!

Note: Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: