This Carrot Zucchini Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing is a light summer salad with toasted sesame seeds for crunch. It's quick and easy to make, vegan, gluten free, and a great alternative to leafy salads.
This is the time of year when you've got zucchini and summer squash up the wazoo. There's even a "Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day" because it grows so abundantly during the summer. (By the way, if you've ever done this, please do let me know. I want to be your friend.)
So I've got a great recipe for you to use up that zucchini and squash: In a spiralized salad with a delicious Asian-inspired Sesame Ginger Dressing.
Why this zucchini salad is awesome:
This salad has a nice little crunch from the raw crunchy vegetables and the toasted sesame seeds. I absolutely love spiralized zucchini, carrots, and squash. Spiralizing vegetables is a great way to eat more raw veggies. By eating vegetables raw, you get all the nutritional value out of vegetables, plus it saves you cooking time.
This salad is light in calories and can be part of a low-carb or keto diet if you skip the sugar in the dressing. It's vegan, delicious, healthy, and super flavorful.
I get tired of leafy green salads so quickly. I always prefer crunchy salads made with lots of vegetables, such as this one.
If you're with me on the crunchy vegetable salads, you might want to check out these recipes:
- Spiralized Carrot Zucchini Salad with Feta and Lemon Garlic Dressing
- 4 Ingredient Fennel Dill Salad
- Sauteed Bell Pepper Salad (also makes a great topping for fajitas and tacos!)
- Chickpea Salad with Pea Shoots (the Basil Lime Dressing is AMAZING)
- Fennel Salad with White Beans
- Calamari Salad with Bell Peppers
Sesame Ginger Dressing:
The Sesame Ginger Dressing for this zucchini salad is made from scratch in about 5 minutes: just mix sesame oil (this one from Tourangelle is so good!), rice vinegar, lime juice, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Add some salt, pepper, and sugar. You can skip the sugar altogether or use honey instead. You can make the dressing in a small bowl, or directly in the bowl where you will mix your salad.
You can also double or triple the dressing recipe and make it in a small jar. Shake the dressing up in the jar before using it, and then store it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Do NOT skip the toasted sesame seeds in the dressing. They add a nice crunch and their aroma and flavor are so good!
A few tips to make the best carrot zucchini salad:
- You can use a combination of zucchini and yellow squash, or just use one of them, doubling the amount. Don't skip the carrots, they add a nice crunch.
- You can julienne or spiralize the vegetables (more on that later, keep reading!) and prepare the dressing a day in advance. But don't mix the vegetables and the dressing together until you are ready to serve! The vegetables release a lot of juice when combined with the dressing, and they lose their crispness over time.
- Take a minute to toast the sesame seeds to really bring out their flavor.
- Use fresh ingredients for the dressings! Fresh lime juice has a much nicer flavor than the bottled stuff. Freshly minced garlic and grated ginger also give the dressings a nice kick and taste so much better than dried powdered seasonings. It's super easy to squeeze fresh juice, spend a minute to press the garlic and grate the ginger if you've got a few simple tools, such as this citrus squeezer, garlic press, and microplane zester.
Spiralize vs Julienne
This photo is a perfect example of spiralized vs julienned vegetables. But juuuust in case you were curious and wanted to read more...
Spiralizing and julienning are two similar techniques for cutting up vegetables. Spiralizing vegetables means to use a spiralizer tool to make thin swirly ribbons of vegetables (more on the tools later!). Using a spiralizer you can make really long swirly noodle-like shapes, or you can make short spiral swirls. There are a ton of spiralizer tools available to make it super easy to spiralize vegetables, which is why you see a ton of recipes for zoodles (zucchini noodles) and a bunch of other spiralized vegetables.
Julienning means using a knife to slice vegetables into very thin long strips. There's actually a specific size for julienned vegetables, according to wikipedia: (0.04–0.08 in × 0.04–0.08 in × 1.6–2 in... if you want to be totally anal about it). This technique of thinly slicing vegetables has been around for hundreds of years. Julienned vegetables are great in stir fries and salads. If you want to feel important, you can certainly get out a ruler and julienne vegetables by hand. But there are julienne slicers and peelers available to make your job easier.
In most recipes, spiralized and julienned vegetables can be used interchangeably (unless you're cooking an authentic French dinner for French people, in which case you might want to stick to the julienne technique.
In this recipe, the vegetables are technically not spiralized OR julienned: they are longer than julienned vegetables, and not as spiraly as spiralized vegetables. This has absolutely no effect on the flavor or texture of the salad, so for the sake of simplicity I will call these spiralized vegetables.
Spiralizing vegetables gives them a great crunchy texture and is a fun way to eat more raw vegetables. I mean, think about it: you probably wouldn't eat sliced raw zucchini. But spiralized raw zucchini? YUM!
Related recipe: Crispy Zucchini Fritters
Some tips to spiralize or julienne vegetables:
There are a ton of gadgets out there to spiralize vegetables. I personally love this simple small spiralizer. It doesn't take up much room in the kitchen cabinets or on the counter, and it works well. The only thing is you have to be REALLY careful with your hands. I am a spaz, so I always wear cut-proof gloves when using the spiralizer or a mandolin. I've had too many cuts to go without gloves!
If you're using a spiralizer such as this one, then I recommend getting vegetables that are not too thick, so that they fit inside the spiralizer.
You can also use a fancier spiralizer, such as this one. It is a bit easier to use and spiralizes vegetables faster. It does take up a bit of room in the cabinets though, so depending on your kitchen size and how often you plan on spiralizing, you might need to weigh the pros and cons of each spiralizer.
Basically, you have a ton of options on how to spiralize, julienne or make ribbons for this salad. There's no excuse not to do it.
Looking for other salad recipes?
- Shaved Carrot Daikon Salad
- Spiralized Zucchini Carrot Salad with Feta and Lemon Garlic Dressing
Looking for other ways to use up summer squash?
Spiralized Carrot Zucchini Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
- 1 yellow squash (small, about 6-7 inches)
- 1 zucchini (small, about 6-7 inches)
- 1 carrot (medium)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
- 1/2 inch piece ginger , peeled and grated
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey (optional, skip for a low carb version)
- Salt & pepper , to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon each)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds , toasted (optional)
- Spiralize or julienne all the vegetables. Or cut them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Serve immediately.
What kind of dressing do you like on your spiralized salads?