Matchstick Zucchini Salad

Choose firm, glossy zucchini for this light vegetable salad and steam them very briefly, so that they remain slightly crisp. Overcooking makes them watery, something to avoid at all costs. Toss them gently with the herbs, and serve forth a delicate and delicious dish.–Carol Field

LC Serve Forth Note

We sorta like the sound of what Carol Field just said, “…serve forth….” Sounds so, er, regal…even in conjunction with a humble vegetable. We’re gonna practice that line.

Matchstick Zucchini Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • 8 small fresh zucchini
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 1. Bring a deep pot of water to a boil. Set the zucchini in a steamer basket, place it over the pot, cover, and steam for a very few minutes, so that the zucchini is cooked but still slightly crisp and al dente. Let cool.
  • 2. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over very low heat, add the garlic, and let it sweat until the flavor of garlic infuses the oil, which ought to take just a minute or two. Add the minced rosemary and sage and let them wilt in the oil for another minute or two.
  • 3. Cut the cooled zucchini into strips the size of kitchen matches, and place them in a salad bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice or vinegar, the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and the garlic-infused oil with the herbs. Toss carefully with the zucchini, being mindful that the sticks are very fragile. Serve at room temperature.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Brenda Carleton

May 08, 2004

Briefly steaming zucchini resulted in an awesome crunchy salad. The recipe said, “steam for a very few minutes.” I would definitely not go beyond three minutes to maintain the crisp texture. We all could imagine how soggy zucchini would taste and feel like in the mouth!
The second step is to infuse oil with garlic and fresh herbs. Then, after the zucchini cool, they are cut into matchsticks and tossed in a vinaigrette made from the garlic-herb oil and acid (recipe specifies red wine vinegar or lemon juice — I used the vinegar this time but plan to make again with lemon juice). Zucchini prepared in this way was revelatory to me, as it is unique, interesting, and delicious. It would definitely work best with young, small zucchini. Feta or ricotta cheese sprinkled on top would be a pleasant addition for a more substantial salad if desired.

Elsa M. Jacobson

May 08, 2004

Here’s a great find for The Great Zucchini Deluge of August! I did use the small zucchini specified, but I think I could also have used the larger ones we have in abundance. Though we have very large, deep pots, I steamed the zucchini in two batches so I could keep a close and watchful eye on them, wanting to be extra-careful not to overcook them. When they fork-tested al dente, I moved on to the preparation of the garlic-infused oil, which created a terrific aroma throughout the first floor — unfortunately for my household, I wasn’t planning to serve the salad til the next day! My cut zucchini pieces were somewhat larger than the wooden kitchen match I used as a sample, and the eight zucchini easily filled a large salad bowl. At that point, it looked like this would make a lot of salad. I went with the red wine vinegar, but would go with lemon juice for its fresh sparkle on the next round. I used a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Perhaps because I cut my zucchini slightly larger, the matchsticks did not seem as fragile as Field describes; I had no difficulty with breakage or damage while tossing. It was delicious at room temperature, just freshly made, but equally delicious the next day for dinner. I tossed it several times during the day and allowed plenty of time for it to return to room temperature. One diner initially skipped it, thinking it would be vinegary, but loved it when she learned it was so fresh, light, and summery, indeed, the perfect summer salad recipe Field describes. One additional note, however: my eight zucchini made far more than enough salad to serve the four to six noted, even with a dinner gathering of big vegetable eaters. No problem. Though the zucchini became a little limper the next day, it held up fine for leftovers.


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