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Uncovering the very hidden beauty of celery root, with 11 recipes

Slowly we're starting to learn to appreciate vegetables my mom might have described as having "nice personalities." You know, the ones that might not look like much, but that are really great once you get to know them.

Brussels sprouts are having their day, and kale is all but ubiquitous. But I'll know we've truly turned the corner against vegetable "look-ism" when we start seeing celery root.

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There aren't many fruits or vegetables more gnarly looking than a celery root. It's big as a softball and it barely looks edible — more like something shocking you unearthed while digging up an especially pernicious weed.

But get beneath that homely exterior and you'll be rewarded with a flavor that is mild and sweet, with just a hint of that sharp celery flavor, and a texture that's crisp when raw and melting when cooked.

Classic dishes with celery root range from shredded raw and served with a mustardy mayonnaise (remoulade) to pureed with potatoes and mellowed with butter.

Celery root does need to be peeled, and deeply. There are all kinds of little folds and crevices that catch dirt. Though it may seem a little wasteful, the easiest way to do this is with a chef's knife, carving the exterior away until you have a cube of heart left.

How to choose: Look for celery root that is heavy for its size and firm. If there are green sprouts coming from the top, make sure they look fresh.

How to store: Celery root is practically indestructible. Keep it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer and it will last for a couple of weeks.

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