Side dish

Zucchini slaw

zucchini slaw DSC8251

One of the toughest things about living in New York City is the lack of any outdoor space. During the winter when the city is cold and wet, you don’t miss it so much. But now that it’s summer, there’s nothing I like better than sitting outside on a warm, breezy day.

Of course, there are plenty of parks in New York, along with a beach that’s an hour train ride away—not everything is cement and steel. But there’s something to be said about having your own space, and besides the fire escape outside my bedroom window, I have no outdoor space to call my own.

Because I don’t have a yard, I also don’t have a grill or a smoker, which means my knowledge of outdoor cooking is purely based in theory and not in practice. That said, I do have friends here who do have outdoor spaces and they are kind enough to invite me over when they have backyard barbecues. As I don’t like to show up empty handed I have to say that I’ve become quite adept at side dishes and portable desserts. And heck, while I love to gnaw on a smoked rib or tuck into a fatty smoky piece of brisket, I’m just as inclined to get seconds on the coleslaw or potato salad, too.

zucchini slaw | Homesick Texan

People are often surprised when they visit Texas for the first time and see people enjoying vegetable dishes. While it’s true most Texans love meat, Texas also has a rich tradition of farming and home gardening, which makes for a multitude of side dishes since after you harvest that patch of land you need to eat what you’ve grown.

One of my new favorite summertime side dishes is this zucchini slaw. Growing up, my dad’s side of the family always had a tangy, mustardy coleslaw at its summertime gatherings. Many slaws can fall into the sweet category, but this one was decidedly savory, it’s sharp acidity going well with any rich, fatty meat you’ve smoked or cooked on the grill.

This slaw isn’t an exact duplicate of what we ate growing up, as for one thing it uses shredded zucchini instead of cabbage as its main ingredient. And I will admit that the first time I heard of someone using julienned raw zucchini instead of cabbage, I thought it was strange. But the zucchini makes for a crunchy and crisp salad base and goes very well with the carrots, jalapeños and green bell peppers, all tossed with a zippy dressing. Though besides tasting good, one of the best things about zucchini slaw is it’s an excellent way to use up your garden’s bounty.

zucchini slaw | Homesick Texan

Sure, side dishes may not be the main event at your backyard barbecue, but there’s no reason why they should be an after thought. And yes, while it may not be the centerpiece of your summertime party, this salad will definitely be a very welcome guest.

zucchini slaw DSC8251
4.67 from 3 votes

Zucchini slaw

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 4 zucchini about 1 pound
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • Dash of cayenne


  1. Using a knife, food processor or julienne peeler, cut the unpeeled zucchini into thin matchstick-sized pieces, about 4 inches in length. Place the julienned zucchini into a container, toss with the salt and refrigerate for an hour.

  2. Drain off the excess liquid, and then toss the julienned zucchini with the shredded carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, bell pepper, garlic and red onion. Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard until they are well combined with the salad. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt to taste.

  3. Chill for one hour. Serve cold.

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I always love reading your stories from home. This slaw sounds awesome and I can't wait to try it!

  2. Lisa Fain

    Katrina–Thanks! Hope you enjoy it!

  3. amygermer

    I stumbled onto your site searching for chocolate pie (your grandma's looks delish can't wait to make it). Then I got to reading some of your post and it about brought me to tears(the post about Texas in Spring). I, being from Texas and now live in Seattle for over 11yrs, miss Texas nearly every day. Thanks for taking me there, if only for a second. Love a fellow homesick Texan!

  4. Oh yeah, love the sound of this!

  5. Lisa Fain

    Amygermer–You're welcome, I'm glad the site helped you feel closer to home.

    Kalyn–Thanks! As you know, there's nothing more fun than cooking with summer's bounty.

  6. DessertForTwo

    Looks delicious! Love this new version of slaw. I bet it's great–plus, who doesn't have a million zucchini this time of year??

    Small typo: One of MY new favorite dishes..

  7. David Leite

    This looks fantastic. (Quelle surprise; everything you do is great.) Do you use homemade mayo? I sometimes zip it up with some herbs/spices. Definitely wonderful for summer salads.

  8. Lisa Fain

    DessertForTwo–Exactly! 'Tis the season for too much zucchini. And thanks for catching the typo.

    David–Muchas gracias! As for the mayo, I usually use store bought because I think it does better at potlucks and such. Though nothing beats the flavor of homemade.

  9. This dish great! I added two small cloves of garlic ala' Vincent's Seafood in Dallas and it just added another layer of flavor. Thanks again!!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Ted–That was fast! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  11. I know my garden will be bursting with zucchini and crooked neck squash within the next few weeks. I know I'll be trying this soon.

  12. Lisa Fain

    Sarah–It's a wonderful way to use up your squash.

  13. racingyogagirl

    Thanks for this recipe! I also need to use my zucchini from our garden. Last week I made your tomato cobbler recipe. It was a HIT! The whole family went wild over it!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Racingyogagirl–That tomato cobbler is definitely one of my favorites this time of year! So pleased that y'all enjoyed it.

  15. I made this today with the chipotle-orange glazed chicken from the previous post. They both were AMAZING and light and summery! Thanks so much!

  16. Lisa Fain

    Rikki–Yay! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. And while I hadn't thought about pairing it with the chicken, I can see how that would be wonderful.

  17. Revdbeth

    Your Grandma A's secret ingredient was Durkee sauce.

  18. Since I write about people who farm, I feel compelled to ask: although what you say is true about the lack of space in NY, are New Yorkers finding more and more tiny spaces where they can grow a few veggies?

    Because they're an awful inventive bunch of folks.

  19. Hi Lisa,

    Love this slaw, and while we're you're the subject of Texas and vegetables, I'd like to recommend an old cookbook from my collection. Published in 1987, it's called 'Nanny's Texas Table' by Larry Ross… many wonderful, simple vegetable recipes from the Houghton Ranch in West Texas. Do you know this book? Is it required Texan cookbook reading? Thanks again for all your recipes, Lisa. I probably make your chipotle chicken tacos twice a month. – Kris

  20. Debra Kapellakis

    We have an abundance of local zucchini's. This is going to help use them up, thank you! I miss Texas too!

  21. This will go perfectly with the chicken I'm grilling tonight. Thanks for such a creative use for zucchini!

  22. Christie {Pepper Lynn}

    I like the idea of using zucchini – never tried it in a slaw before. Plus, I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to use my julienne peeler. 🙂

  23. Sharon Lee

    Man – i'm so glad i found this page. bookmarking for sure…i was on a make my own cheese binge and saw an old post on here, then had to spend two more hours (dangit – i'm at work too!) reading other recipes I'm dying to try. Thanks.

  24. Lisa Fain

    Revd Beth–Good to know, though you never see that here.

    Shelley–Roof top gardens are a big trend here.

    Kris–Thank you for the recommendation. I don't know this book so I'll have to find a copy!

  25. Lisa Fain

    Debra–Happy to help you use up your zucchini!

    Julia–You're welcome. Sounds like a wonderful combination.

    Christie–Isn't that a fun gadget? I just got mine but I can already tell it's going to be used often this summer.

    Sharon Lee–Welcome! So pleased you enjoyed visit to the site. Happy cooking (and reading)!

  26. tariqata

    I loved this so, so, so much! I had to fall back on a mustardy vinaigrette (with the remaining teaspoon or so of mayo from what turned out to be a nearly empty jar stirred in) but it still worked. I served it with tacos with grilled portobello mushrooms but the next time I make it, it might be dinner all by itself.

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