Shallots (Allium ascalonicum), a member of the onion family, is formed somewhat like garlic with several “cloves” per head. The individual “cloves” are more onion-like with layers within each bulb. The outer skin can range from grayish tan to a rosy brown. The flesh may have a pale greenish to purple tint. The flavor is mild–somewhat between onion and garlic–not hot like onion. When buying, look for bulbs that are firm, with shiny skins, and without sprouts. Shallots should be stored like onions or garlic: in a dry place, out of direct light, and with good ventilation.
Shallots can be used like onions–very versatile. They have a mild onion flavor. They are classic ingredients in beurre blanc, vinaigrette, and béarnaise sauces. They are expensive in the grocery stores, so it’s a really treat to find them at the farmers’ market somewhat less expensively.
One of the things that I did with them was to sauté some and add to scrambled eggs. Another wonderful thing to do when you are fortunate enough to have lots of shallots is to roast them either alone (and then add just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar before serving), or to include them with other roasted vegetables. They can add wonderful flavor to other vegetables like green beans–so many things to do with this member of the allium family.
The add a marvelous touch to a simple vinaigrette. The recipe for shallot vinaigrette below is taken from Lilies of the Kitchen, by Barbara Batcheller, p. 211:
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley springs
- 2 large shallots
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup peanut oil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Place the parsley, shallots, and vinegar in a blender and given them a few whirls to mince the parsley and shallots. Add the mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper and spin again.
With the motor running, add the oils in a thin stream. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Many dishes, such as vegetables, or meats are excellent with a touch of vinaigrette–and easy way to dress up some leftover veggies or meat. Once you experience the flavor of shallots, I think that you’ll find many uses for them.