Shaved Squash Salad with Toasted Walnuts

I’m deep into Gabrielle Hamiltons’s book Blood, Bones and Butter.

I fell asleep last night to her words describing the first time she encounters the simple cooking of Alda, an eighty year old woman from the Italian boot heel; in Puglia. She is the mother of her then-new husband.

How this woman soulfully – and deliciously – connects with the food that literally grows like some kind of Garden of Eden in her backyard, stuff “like none” what you’d find here, outside that hot Southern Italian climate.

Produce like lemons, oranges, figs, olives, apricots, tomatoes…pine nuts that fall off the tree into the courtyard. Can you imagine?

Not to mention the zucchini, that is “less porous, less watery and has smaller seeds than ours”.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. I’ve been trying, despite my seeming lack of chemistry with squash, to learn to like them, even to show some affection. Little baby zucchini I can do. I usually eat them raw or barely cooked, dressed with lemon juice, garlic and sea salt.

But most squash, and especially summer squash, I just don’t get along with. In fact, I avoid them like a 10-year-old boy would a bathtub on a Saturday night.

I put out a plea on Twitter a few weeks ago, and my virtual friend Becky of Chef Reinvented responded with what I thought was a very brilliant, very simple idea -“shave on a mandoline, great evoo, toasted walnuts, parm. reggiano, lemon juice”… I could totally see myself hooking up with a summer squash based on that flavor profile.

And so I did. Slicing an otherwise bland squash into noodle-like ribbons and dressing with luscious olive oil, sparkling lemon juice, crisp, toasty walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano might be the best thing you can do with a summer squash. Maybe for me the ONLY thing to do with a summer squash and still be rated PG.


  1. How fun! I love the idea of shaved squash – I’ve never tried (or even thought about) it before, but this seems like something that I need to make for spring/summertime!

  2. Love it..Got to love shaved squash.
    I’ve always liked experiment with veggies whenever I get the chance. In the winter I often steam my squash & zucchini with some butter, garlic, mushrooms, celery, onions, and some custom seasonings to make a wonderful soup. You can slice them ribbon thin style (like above) & steaming them with some onions, carrots saute in evoo or herb butter before adding them to some pasta topped with homemade red wine marinara sauce. Or you can simply grill them (cutting them in half longways) spooning out some of the center, adding onions, olive & garlic filler, some EVOO-herb butter, little seasoning and top them with Parmigiano-Reggiano & sharp cheddar cheese try wrapping them in smoked applewood bacon to make you really smile.

  3. Your photos are lovely. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some really fresh squash soon and be able to make fabulous Spring salads like this one!

  4. Ever since I saw squash cut into ribbon-like pasta last summer I was intrigued. Love that you pair it with walnuts and simple, perfect ingredients.

  5. K, we had your salad last night with homemade pizza. Awesome match!! I wasn’t sure what Tim would think, but he was begging for more. As always, your ideas are right on! Thanks for this one 🙂

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