When you weary of sautéing it, stuffing it, baking it into zucchini bread, and unloading it on dubious neighbors, try these creative ideas for a vegetable that is actually a bit underrated.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

We invite zucchini into our garden each year, then joke helplessly about the happy crowd that turns up. But zucchini is not only gorgeous and tasty in its flowering stage, it's also delicious in pickles, coleslaw, and even meat loaf.

1. Make pickles
Zucchini pickles are every bit as delicious as their cucumber counterparts. Give this sweet-spicy version a go. Combine 4 cups 1/8-inch zucchini slices, 1 cup slivered sweet onion, and 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a glass bowl. Bring 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil; pour over zucchini mixture. Cover and chill 24 hours.

2. Reinvent coleslaw
The neutral flavor and crisp texture of raw zucchini make it a great base for slaw. Try this savory-sweet version: Combine 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; toss with 4 cups shredded zucchini, 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup slivered red onion.

3. Moisten a lean meat loaf
Use the inherent moisture of shredded zucchini to make a juicy lower-fat meat loaf. Take your favorite beef-based meat loaf recipe, and substitute lean ground turkey breast for the beef. For every pound of meat, add 2 cups shredded zucchini. Bonus: Extra veggies in your dinner!