Beets present a delightful vegetable transition from summer to fall. On the one hand, their bright yellow or red hues bring us back to sunny days on the beach, while on the other, their essential sweetness and earthiness give a nod towards the root vegetables soon to overwhelm our shopping baskets.

Unlike, say, a cucumber, which really requires no cooking instruction (1. pick. 2. wash. 3. eat), beets put up a barrier to enjoyment. They’re a little ugly. Remnants of dirt cake onto their skins. You probably don’t just want to bite into them. So that you can appreciate all that beets have to offer, we put together this guide to making the most out of the super nutritious root vegetables with the enviable Russian pedigree. Here you go!

**How to Cook with Beets**

First Cook, Then Peel

The skin of the beet is hard to remove when the vegetable is raw. If you use a peeler, you’re apt to lose half the beet as you attempt to sever the skin from the vegetable. We have a better technique. Cook the beets first–then the skins will slide right off. You can boil for 25 to 30 minutes in a big pot of water, until they’re tender. Set in a bowl of cold water ’til cool enough to handle. You can also bake skin-on beets on a foil-lined baking sheet at 450°F for 45 minutes, or until tender.

Either way, once the beets are cool, you should be able to slip the skins right off with your fingers. You can also use a paper towel to rub the skin off if you don’t want to turn your pinkies pink (see next tip).

Don’t Dye Your Kitchen Pink

When we talk about discoloration, we’re usually referring to ripe avocados turning brown when left out. Here, there’s no problem with the beets’ appearance. No, we’re talking about the fact that beet prep can turn your fingers, arms, shirt, counter, cutting board, hand towels, and knives a gorgeous shade of hot pink. If you weren’t in the mood to repaint, use a paper towel to remove the skin from the cooked beet and choose one easy-to-clean cutting board for all your beet prepwork. If you really hate the hue, opt for yellow beets, which don’t stain. (And, if your fingers do turn pink, don’t worry–a shower or two and they’ll be back to normal.)

Balance Beets’ Flavors

The intense earthiness beets bring to the table calls for two balancing flavors: rich or creamy and tangy. You’ll often see the vegetable tossed with a vinaigrette even before being added to a salad–that helps neutralize the sweetness. Most of all, we love to top the finished beet dish with goat cheese or walnuts, or pair the beets with creamy avocado. You can check out all our beet recipes here.