The green summer squash known as zucchini is among the most versatile of vegetables. It can be grated into pancake batters, shredded to mimic pasta or cut into sticks, breaded and deep-fried like potatoes.
Here are four restaurants that get creative with zucchini.
CUCINA DI VARGAS, 12 Franklin Ave., Hewlett, 516-596-7260
At this family-style Italian restaurant, fried zucchini is a treat. The shards are crunchy, nutty and crisp-tender. ($9.95 individual/$15.95 family-style).
ABEETZA NEXT DOOR, 82 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale, 516-484-3123
If you order the dish called "angry shrimp" over zucchini "noodles" instead of pasta, you'll get thin ribbons of the vegetable that are briefly sauteed before being sauced. A knockout concoction, both low-fat and low-carb. ($12.50)
EROL'S CHIT CHAT CAFE, 1597 Rte. 112, Port Jefferson Station, 631-509-4300
At this casual Turkish spot, big, fluffy zucchini pancakes -- four to an order -- are made with mint, dill, feta and mozzarella. Herbal and comforting. ($5.95)
IDEAL CHEESE & WINE CAFE, 308 Main St., Huntington, 631-923-3434
A multitasking champ, this restaurant functions as an early morning coffee shop, an artisanal cheese purveyor and a full-service cafe. For lunch (or dinner), try the airy-light yet richly satisfying zucchini "spaghetti," shredded squash tossed with Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts, basil and a scoop of house-made ricotta on top.