Too much zucchini is never enough! How to use up summer squash in so many ways

Zucchini's strength is a chameleon-like ability to blend seamlessly into many dishes.

(CNN)The cry goes out from over-ambitious gardeners every summer: "What can I do with all this zucchini?" If you've ever been such a gardener, or the unwitting recipient of a surprise stack of squash on your front stoop, you can understand.

It might seem like zucchini is nothing to get excited about. But its strength is a chameleon-like ability to blend seamlessly into many dishes. There's so much more to do with zucchini and the entire family of summer squash than baking up endless loaves of zucchini bread and muffins.
Zucchini and its ilk are the little black dresses -- make that little green dresses -- of summer vegetables. You can show off squash as the star of the meal or hide it away in a stew or a cake. It's as easy to eat and easy to love as it is to grow.
    Zucchini can be the star of your meal or be tucked away as a side dish.
    Zucchini is a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients, according to Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian, chef and author of "The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook: Quick and Easy High-Protein, Low-Sugar, Healthy-Fat Recipes for Lifelong Health." It's a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6.
      "Like most vegetables, zucchini is low-carb and cholesterol-free and low in total and saturated fat," she added in an email. "Additionally, zucchini contains carotenoids like lutein, which helps support skin health by providing a level of protection from the sun (but still wear your sunscreen)."
      Whether you're eating batons of zucchini, scalloped pattypans or curvy crooknecks, all varieties of summer squash are similar in nutritional value. However, Dudash notes that yellow squash contains a lot more seeds than zucchini, giving it a slightly higher fiber content.

      Yes, you can eat it raw

        Zucchini carpaccio is prepared here with feta, walnut and dill.
        Shaved squash salads are perhaps the simplest way to savor this vegetable in all its shapely varieties. Use a mandoline or hand-held vegetable slicer to make paper-thin slices of zucchini or other squash, then dress them up with vinaigrette.
        Health-conscious eaters may want to skip the dressing, but Dudash recommends adding it. "Try to pair fat with your zucchini, since it helps boost the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, including lutein," she said. "Drizzle on the olive oil, pair it with Parmesan, and so on."