Illustration by Kristy Heilenday
Much like “The Highlander,” there can be only one when it comes to “true shallots” — the type to grow from cloves, never from seed— but unlike the timeless warriors, the many varieties of shallots can coexist peacefully (not to mention deliciously). Some red, some copper, some gray, some yellow, these finely layered relatives of the onion lend a mild and sweet flavor to your dish along with a hint of garlic, perfect for your spring and summer recipes.
There’s some dispute as to the exact origin of these alliums but whether they first grew in the Middle East or in Asia, one thing is certain: Shallots have been cultivated globally for thousands of years. They were enjoyed in ancient Egypt, adored in Greece and Rome, and later brought to Europe by crusaders in the 11th century. Today, they’re grown — and enjoyed— on nearly every continent.
What to Buy
Available at most grocery stores and some farmers markets, shallots are small, oblong, onion-like bulbs on the outside, with garlic-like cloves on the inside. When shopping, look for firm and unwrinkled shallots that haven’t yet sprouted. Once you get them home, store in a cool, dry place — try a countertop or cupboard, not a fridge— and they should last weeks.
How to Prepare
Because each clove is enclosed in papery skin like garlic, you’ll want to remove the casing in most preparations. (But, just as you can with garlic, slow-roasting whole cloves in their jackets can yield wonderful results.) Shallots offer a nuanced flavor that’s arguably best when enjoyed raw, so be sure to add them to your salad dressings or slice them thinly and use them to top nearly anything. They’re also lovely sautéed with herbs and butter, just as they are braised with meat.
Shallot and Celery Vinaigrette
Makes 2 cups
By Greg Johnson of Citizen
1 shallot, peeled and diced
¼ cup of celery, diced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 ½ cups of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients — with the exception of olive oil, salt and pepper— in a blender and pulse the mixture until smooth. With the blender on high, slowly incorporate the olive oil in a
thin stream until emulsified. Add salt and pepper, then serve with your favorite salad or roasted or grilled vegetables, or use as a marinade for grilled chicken.