The world’s ugliest vegetable.

Celery root, the world's ugliest vegetable, in a salad with gouda cheese and red onion

Celery root may be the world’s ugliest vegetable, with one end a messy tangle of roots and dirt. The root end is the bottom, while the knob on top grows a bitter relative of the familiar celery you fill with cream cheese for snacking.

To prepare it for cooking, take a thick slice off the root end. This is painful for thrifty New Englanders who hope against hope that they can clean around the nubby roots with a peeler or pairing knife. These are the same people who take the hard brown dots off a thinly peeled pineapple using a grapefruit spoon. They are either deeply committed or have a lot of free time. (I love you Mom!)

Once you cut off the root end, peel the brown-grey skin revealing the white, starchy interior. Celery root is great roasted, or boiled and mashed with potatoes. The outer ugly duckling truly reveals a beautiful, and delicious, swan inside.

Celery Root And Coolea Cheese Salad

Serves 6

For dressing:

Jonathan Bardzik with celery root, the world's ugliest vegetable
Celery root: the world’s ugliest vegetable
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs stone ground mustard
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – the good stuff!


  • In a medium bowl, toss together cheese, onion and parsley.
  • Make vinaigrette: Sprinkle garlic with coarse salt and mash into a paste. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic paste, vinegar, mustard, and thyme. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt as needed. Let rest for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Finish vinaigrette by drizzling in oil, while whisking, to form a creamy emulsion.
  • While vinaigrette rests, boil water in a 4 qt saucepan. Add celery root with 1 tbs salt and cook until softened but still firm in the center, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove celery root from water with a slotted spoon and toss immediately with cheese and onion mixture.
  • Dress salad with vinaigrette and season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional splash of vinegar as needed.

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