So much more than an onion, the delicate shallot has a sweeter, subtler flavour than its bigger counterpart that we just can’t enough of. Available from January to May only, shallots bring that unmistakable quality to the table. The season is short so don’t miss out!
A favourite with chefs everywhere, the shallot differs from the everyday onion in a number of ways. Firstly, it grows like garlic, in clusters rather than single bulbs. Secondly, it has a softer flavour, bringing all the essence of an onion without the punch. Thirdly, it’s smaller and a little more oval-shaped.
Here are a few reasons why we love cooking with shallots:
It’s an ideal flavour-booster. Transform an ordinary potato salad into something special with the simple addition of raw, finely chopped shallots and a white wine vinegar dressing.
It’s a beauty on the braai. Simply wrap it in tinfoil and cook it on the coals. Unwrap it gently and add its elegant charred sweetness to other roast vegetables – or eat it as is.
It’s a dream in sauce. Aside from the elusive Béarnaise, shallots add something sublime to any sauce: think shallot and red wine sauce, balsamic-shallot sauce, or a creamy mushroom-shallot concoction.
It pairs exquisitely with wines. Shallots and wine go together like… shallots and wine. Sauté the exquisite alliums in butter until soft and their delicate earthiness will elevate any accompanying vintage – white or red. Add fresh tomatoes with a lighter-bodied red, or pop in carrots and tarragon to go with a dry Sauvignon. A top tip? Deglaze the shallot pan with your chosen wine.
Here are some of our favourite recipes with shallots:
Caramelised pear and shallot salad
Classic Béarnaise sauce.
Fresh pasta with roasted shallots