Every cook has — at one time — waxed poetic about produce. How can we not sing the praises of the delicious fruits and veggies that keep us healthy? Even Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote an Ode to the Onion, saying, “I have praised everything that exists/but to me, onion, you are/more beautiful than a bird.” Neruda was right to recognize just how great onions are, but I can’t help but wonder … did he ever taste a shallot? If he had, he might have written an “Ode to the Shallot,” too, with its sweet and mild, yet subtly spicy, flavor.
Shallots belong to the same family as onions and garlic. If you’re like I once was, you may have never thought about using shallots. But, trust me, once you add shallots to your everyday cooking, you’ll never look back. Sure, you’ll still use onions on the regular, but you’ll always be looking for more ways to use shallots. You’ll understand why they’re sometimes called the “unsung hero” of French cooking and why they are so often featured in various Asian cuisines. Shallots are not only delicious — they’re also good for you! Shallots contain vitamins A, C, E, and, and important minerals like selenium, which help keep your skin and hair healthy.
Now, let’s get cooking and peel back the layers of what makes the shallot so special.
Here are five exciting ways to use them in your kitchen.
1. Make Your Own Shallot Oil
Using shallot oil can add a fabulous undertone to your stir-fries, like this Spicy Mushroom Stir Fry. To make shallot oil, slice 2 shallots very thinly, heat up 1 1/2 cups of vegetable or peanut oil in a pan or wok, and fry the shallots for about 8-12 minutes, stirring often until they are golden-brown. Then strain the shallot and oil mixture into a bowl or container, placing the shallots on a paper towel to dry for 5 or 10 minutes. Store the fried shallot slices (we’ll hear more about these in a bit) and the oil in separate airtight containers. You can keep the oil in your refrigerator for several weeks.
2. Fry ‘Em Up!
When you make shallot oil, you actually get an extra bonus: fried shallots! Those shallot slices that started out drying on a paper towel make great toppings for salads, stir fries, soups, and dishes like these Roasted Beet Noodles with Crispy Shallots. Fried shallots are easy to make, which is great, because sometimes we all need a little fried somethin’ somethin’. Fried shallots will last for a day or two, but they taste best when you eat them right after preparing them.
3. Pop Them in the Oven
That’s right, roast them! There are so many amazing ways to utilize roasted shallots. You can roast them as part of a delicious mixture, as in this dish, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Shallots and Crispy Kale Ribbons. Or, you can roast them whole with potatoes and rosemary, and your kitchen will smell amazing!
4. Sass Up Your Salads!
In addition to adding fried shallots or freshly chopped shallots to salads like this Rainbow Salad, shallots make wonderful vinaigrettes. If you love making creative salad dressings, then why not make shallot dressings? To make a batch of mustard-shallot vinaigrette, combine 1 minced shallot, 2 tbs. white wine vinegar, and 2 tsps. Dijon mustard in a container with a tight lid and shake until the ingredients are well-mixed. Add salt and pepper and shake again. Slowly add 1 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup at a time. If you’d like, you can add lemon juice or herbs, as in this Snap Pea Salad with Almonds in an Herbed Vinaigrette.
5. Pickle Them!
If you’re a pickle enthusiast, you probably already know that you can pickle all kinds of veggies, and not just cucumbers. So why not pickle shallots, too? To pickle shallots, bring 1 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tbs. salt to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then add the shallots, bringing the vinegar to a boil again. Add them to your favorite spicy dishes, or a Soba Noodle Salad.
Fried or pickled, roasted or sauteed, shallots are an amazing addition to any kitchen! Now that’s something to celebrate, maybe even with an ode.
Lead image source: Buttery Spinach Salad With Crumbled Tempeh and Crispy Shallots