What they are: A small member of the onion family, shallots probably originated in Asia, though they were named by the Greeks, who believed the bulbs came from an ancient city in Israel, Ashkelon. Shallots are shaped like slim garlic, with multiple cloves inside one head, and their ivory skin can show hints of many colors from the traditional gray, to gold to reddish-gold.
Season: Dry shallots are available year-round, but locally grown shallots should be available this month. Pick bulbs that are large, plump and firm, and avoid ones that are moldy or sprouting.
Nutrition: One ounce of shallots has 20 calories, no fat, no fiber, 1 gram of protein and 7 percent of your daily vitamin A, according to nutritiondata.com.
How to store: Shallots can be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to one month, according to Aliza Green’s “Field Guide to Produce.”
In American cooking, the onion gets all the attention.
Well, occasionally, it’ll let its cousin, garlic, have a bit of the glory, but for the most part it’s all about the onion: red, yellow or white.
But for much of the rest of the world, the shallot is king.
That also goes for the culinary world, where chefs in the know love to use the little bulbs to give dishes a special oomph.
“I think shallots are great because they’re very versatile and they impart a garlic flavor and maybe less of an onion flavor,” says Ken Baker, chef and proprietor at Pachamama’s Restaurant & Star Bar, 800 N.H. “They kind of fit the space in between, for a lot of reasons.”
Baker uses them in sauces and vinaigrettes, fried as a topping to the restaurant’s house salad and really anytime he wants to have a flavor a bit less sharp than an onion.
As with their taste, shallots’ size and look is somewhere in between an onion and a garlic bulb. The head is shaped like a narrow young onion, but the inside is similar to garlic in that it is made up of multiple cloves. As for color, shallots run the gamut, from golden brown to gray to rosy red, and their ivory flesh is generally tinged with green or rose. The most popular ones you’ll find in supermarkets, though, are a golden brown, says Greg Stone, produce manager at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway.
Stone says that when it comes time to picking a shallot, take hints from their famous culinary cousins.
“You don’t want them to be sprouting, and you want them to be firm, like a bulb of garlic. You don’t want them to be soft,” he says. “And they should have a nice gold color.”
Baker says he prefers his shallots as fresh as possible — directly from the ground if he can get them that way. Stone says that if you can’t get them that fresh, keep a close eye on their weight when you pick them up at the store.
“The heavier the better,” he says, noting that heft is equal to moisture content, which is akin to freshness. “Its kind of like apples if you’ve ever noticed. Apples or peaches, when you pick them up, if they’re light, the moisture content isn’t there.”
Asparagus with Blood Oranges and Shallots
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves peeled garlic thinly sliced
8 shallots peeled and quartered lengthwise
Mirin or dry white wine
1 bunch asparagus ends snapped left whole
2 blood oranges peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
Place a small amount of oil, garlic and shallots in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium. When the shallots begin to sizzle, add a pinch of sea salt and sauté until the shallots are quite limp and beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Add lemon zest, sprinkle generously with mirin and add asparagus spears. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the asparagus is just tender and a vivid green. Remove from heat and stir gently to combine.
Arrange blood orange rings around the rim of a serving platter and spoon asparagus and shallots into the center. Drizzle the entire dish with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.
— Recipe from www.melissas.com
Caramelized Shallots and Blue Cheese Dip
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups shallots (about 3 ounces), sliced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces blue cheese at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots. Cover and cook until shallots are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.
Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in medium bowl to blend. Add blue cheese. Using rubber spatula, mash mixture until smooth. Stir in caramelized shallots. Season dip to taste with salt and pepper. Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Serve dip chilled or at room temperature.
— Recipe from www.melissas.com
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh or dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, basil, parsley or tarragon (optional)
Whisk together shallots, vinegar and mustard. Whisk in olive oil until dressing slightly thickens. Season with salt, pepper and herbs.
— Recipe from www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Green beans with Shallots and Almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2/3 cup blanched almond slivers, toasted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallots to hot, drained green beans. Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and toss gently. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with almonds and serve.
— Recipe from www.wholefoods.com
Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce
1 small spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Step 1) Pierce the squash in several places with the tip of a knife. In a microwave oven, heat the squash on high (100 percent) for 15-18 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork, then let cool for 10 minutes.
Step 2) Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, until shallots are translucent.
Step 3) Add the tomatoes, thyme and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the basil.
Step 4) Halve the squash crosswise and scoop out the seeds. Scrape the inside of the squash among 8 plates and top each serving with sauce, remaining basil and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
— Recipe from www.dole.com