This petite member of the allium family is a favorite ingredient for our food editors. Find out why they're used in so many recipes.

If you read a lot recipes, you've inevitably come across shallots in the ingredients list—they pop up everywhere from salad dressings to beef stock, pasta dishes to quiche. They are a member of the allium family, which means shallots are closely related to onions, garlic, and chives. Still, many home cooks are somewhat unfamiliar with shallots; get to know them, though, and you'll have added another very useful ingredient to your cooking repertoire, one that adds a nuanced and smooth depth to a wide variety of dishes.

You'll find shallots near the garlic and onions in the grocery store. They look like smaller, more elongated onions and have a papery skin that must be removed. Like garlic, they grow in clusters. Once you've removed the paper film, you can cut them in a slice or a dice (or even rings, which we'll get to later). Shallots will keep for weeks in a cool, dry place.

who and minced shallots on cutting board with knife

A building block in many recipes, shallots are quite versatile. You can eat them raw, and when minced they add a fresh kick to vinaigrettes and other salad dressings. They also roast like a dream, taking on a melt-in-your-mouth texture. When heated, shallots break down more easily than onions do, so they caramelize and melt wonderfully, especially in slow roasted or braised dishes. They lend smoothness, playing a strong supporting role that rounds out flavors of the other ingredients in a dish.

Shallots can be key players in sauces, soups, and compound butters; you can also cut them into rings and fry them or pickle them. And while their softer, milder, smoother taste means onions aren't exactly an equal swap, you can certainly do so if a recipe calls for shallots and you don't have any. If the dish calls for cooked shallots, try yellow or Vidalia onions or leeks; if it calls for raw shallots, opt for scallions or chives.


Be the first to comment!