It's rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It's low in calories and carbs. But most of all, it's deliciously versatile. We're talking about zucchini.
Long before zucchini noodles (or zoodles) were even a thing, chefs were adding this summery squash to salads, soups, stews, and even desserts to amp up the fiber content and nutrition of sweets.
Whether you prefer it spiralized into noodles, grilled until smoky, or fried to crispy perfection, the zucchini may be one of the most versatile vegetables ever.
How to chop zucchini like a proPlay Video - 0:50
How to chop zucchini like a proPlay Video - 0:50
"No matter what you do with it, it's delicious," said holistic nutritionist Pamela Salzman. And here at TODAY Food we agree completely.
Summer, peak zucchini season, is just around the corner so here are 21 amazing recipes to try.
You won't even miss the spuds with these crispy, crunchy veggie batons. Zucchini fries are great dipped in ketchup, tomato sauce or even homemade ranch dressing. Yum.
Satisfy your pasta cravings with this nutritious and delicious dish from TODAY's own Natalie Morales. For extra protein, serve it with your favorite Italian sausage or grilled chicken breast.
Love zucchini? You HAVE to try these "zoats" for a healthy breakfast. Don't know what they are? Zoats are simply oats, grated zucchini and egg whites all cooked together, providing a decadent and filling morning experience that has plenty protein, good fats and carbs all packed into one.
Craving some traditional Italian flavors? Use a hollowed-out zucchini instead of dough to make these healthy boats loaded with pizza toppings.
Zucchini is a very watery vegetable so adding it to certain dessert recipes will help keep them moist without imparting any weird flavor. This super moist sweet is even better with a dose of rich chocolate.
Ready in 25 minutes, this is an easy and affordable snack or finger food when zucchini are in season. Let the flavor of the veggie really shine through here!
Make the most of late summer squash and tomatoes with Martha Stewart's savory tart. It's perfect for breakfast (just serve it with some perfectly poached eggs), lunch or dinner.
Fresh herbs, a handful of nuts and salty cheese turn the raw vegetable into an elegant appetizer perfect for entertaining any time of year.
Perfect for a light, meatless supper, this delicious dish is super easy to make and will please both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
"I remade the classic comfort food using lentils instead of beef and swapping the starchy roll for roasted zucchini boats," said Bauer. "The result: A deliciously light spin — just 82 calories! — that you can most definitely go back for seconds or thirds, even fourths, of!"
Use a spiralizer to turn the versatile squash into delicious zoodles aka zucchini noodles. Use them as the base for this garlicky shrimp dish or load on your favorite pasta sauce.
Nothing says summer like a gorgeous pie, but this one has a twist. First off, it's a savory pie filled with a colorful mix of fresh seasonal produce including baby zucchini and summer squash, heirloom tomatoes and squash blossoms. Second, a quick whipped pimento cheese gives the creamy and cheesy filling a delicious tangy flavor.
This is a particularly useful recipe because it can be cooked as one large cake (use a 9-inch diameter spring form cake tin and cook for about 1 hour) or divided in half and cooked as a loaf. You can even divide the batter to make 12 cupcakes.
Dress up simply grilled scallops, zucchini, yellow summer squash and eggplant in a lightly smoky vinaigrette made with charred tomatoes. If it's not quite grilling season, you can use a grill pan to replicate the sear indoors.
Who says lasagna needs to bake in an oven? This no-bake version of lasagna couldn't be quicker — or more refreshing.
Heart-healthy salmon and zucchini are a match made in heaven. Serve them over rice to add some heft or mixed greens to keep the meal lighter.
Add sliced potatoes, mushrooms or tomatoes to this versatile dish and try swapping Parmesan with grated Gruyere or fontina cheese. Also, if you're gluten-free, you can skip the bread crumbs entirely. Try roasted cauliflower rice, instead!
This delightful recipe makes an elegant presentation but it's not that hard to make. TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford loves this healthy and easy fish dish that's perfect for entertaining.
These super-addictive crispy, crunchy skinny chips make a healthy and inexpensive snack. The creamy, tangy Moroccan dip is also fabulous paired with grilled chicken.
Transform zucchini into hot, crispy fritters topped off with a cool dollop of sour cream or yogurt for the ultimate way to get your greens — and satisfy a craving for something fried.
Picky eaters will find the zucchini in this cornbread nearly undetectable, but bakers will love how it makes every bite delectably moist.
This post was originally published on Aug. 22, 2016.