If you have just recently gotten into vegetable gardening, then chances are you have probably run across one of the biggest problems of that hobby—an overabundance of certain vegetables.  One of the biggest culprits is zucchini and summer squash, two veggies that are quite prolific.  If you find yourself beset with an abundance of zucchini this summer, here are a few quick and easy options to help move that bounty along:

Zucchini boats—If you have kids, you know how difficult it can be to get them to eat their veggies.  For years, parents have tried to “dress them up” with fun recipes like “Ants on a Log” (peanut butter and raisins on celery).  But another way to do this is with zucchini boats.  To make sure you make these well, you are going to want to invest in a quality knife set to make the cutting easy and safe.  Once you have sliced the zucchini, hollow it out into boats and then fill them up with your choice of fillings such as rice, beans, or salsa.  You can also make it a family event and have the kids help you out.

Zucchini sushi—For a slightly more refined palate, you can also try an excellent rendition of a sushi roll using sliced zucchini in place of seaweed or cucumber.  Take a vegetable peeler and slice a few thin strips of zucchini.  Then ladle on carrots, avocado, cream cheese, and lump crab meat on top and then roll the strips up.  When you are finished, sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds, and you’ll have not only a healthy snack but a unique hors d’oeuvre option for adult gatherings.

Zucchini noodles— A popular option recently has been the creation of zucchini noodles.  If you are trying to lose weight, you probably have been told to cut out carbs as much as possible.  But this is easier said than done, as pasta is a guilty pleasure for so many of us.  You can cut out the carbs and still keep the pasta though by using zucchini noodles instead.  Use a vegetable spiralizer to cut the zucchini into thin noodles for a beautiful plate of spaghetti marinara.  Or, you can use a mandolin slicer to create thin sheets of lasagna noodles for zucchini lasagna.  Either option will get you some great meals that are tasty and healthy.

Zucchini bread—Perhaps the most popular usage for leftover vegetables like zucchini has been as an ingredient in homemade bread.  If you haven’t already tried this, you should make an effort.  What really makes zucchini bread a great option is that you can freeze it for later, which leads to our last point about what to do with leftover zucchini…

Freeze it—One of the best things you can do is to shrink-wrap the extra zucchini and then freeze it for the winter months.  In the meantime, you can invest in some new cookbooks to help you come up with some ideas for how to cook the zucchini after you thaw it out.  The Vegetable Butcher doesn’t just include recipes, but also techniques for how to prepare the veggies.  If you want healthy recipes, try the EatingWell Vegetables cookbook.  Both of these cover all kinds of vegetables, but if zucchini is your mainstay, then check out The Awesome Zucchini Recipe Book for everything from zucchini pasta to zucchini cookies.

Zucchini Lasagna – This is our favorite way to use an overabundance of zucchini.  We simply use a mandolin slicer (be careful though!) to slide zucchini longways into long slices.  It’s perfect to use as “noodles” in place of regular noodles or even gluten free noodles.  We will make up an entire lasagna (meat, sauce, cheese and all) and will freeze them in foil containers.  Then, whenever we have group gatherings, where inevitably someone has a gluten intolerance, we pull out our lasagnas for an easy group meal!  You get a few extra greens, PLUS it tastes amazing!

If you are blessed with a good haul from your garden’s zucchini crop this season, then you have a lot of different options.  Trying something new, like zucchini sushi or zucchini pasta, is an opportunity to expand your cooking horizons.