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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Shallots

Shallots:

About:

Shallots (Allium cepa) are members of the lily family along with more than 300 varieties of onion and onion-like vegetables. that include leeks, scallions, and garlic.  The shallot is a small bulb, roughly the size of a small head of garlic, that sometimes separates into 2 or 3 cloves when you remove the outer skin.
Shallots are favored for their mild onion flavor.  They can be used in the same manner as the onion.

Varieties:

There are 2 types of shallot:  The Jersey of "false" shallot, which is the larger of the two, and "true" shallots which have a more subtle flavor.  Fresh green shallots are available in the spring, and dry shallots, which have a dry skin and a moist flesh are available year round.   Shallots are graded by size into small, medium, and jumbo, which has the least flavor.
The most commonly cultivated shallot is the pink shallot, which has a pinkish papery skin and an oblong shape.  There is also a copper yellow shallot, which has a yellowish skin and a more elongated shape.  Top quality shallots are grown in the Brittany region of France, and in other European countries.  Canada, and  U.S. crops are also grown.

History: 

Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeastern Asia travelling from there to India and the Eastern  Mediterranean.  Some believe the word "shallot" derives from a Middle Eastern city named Ashkelon or Ascalon.  The ancient Greeks grew shallots and traded them to other countries, and the Romans prized them as a food and an aphrodisiac.  

Uses:

Shallots add a subtle flavor and aroma to casseroles, pasta dishes, stews, and soups.   Shallots are used whole, slivered, or minced.  Minced shallots can be added to a vinaigrette to dress tossed salad or avocado.  Shallots are excellent in sauces. 

Health Benefits:

Shallots appear to contain more flavonoids and phenols than other members of the onion genus. 

Season:

Shallots are available year round thanks to cold storage.  Like other onions, they have a more delicate flavor in the spring and a stronger flavor in the fall. 

Selecting and Storing:

Shallots should be firm with dry, papery skin.  Avoid shallots that show sprouts (green shoots) or dark spots.  Keep shallots in a cool, dry, and dark place.  They will keep for about a month.  In the refrigerator use then in 2 weeks.   Once they are peeled or cut wrap shallots in plastic and refrigerate, or place in a jar and cover with olive oil and refrigerate.  You can used the aromatic oil afterwards in a salad dressing.

So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:

Roasted Potatoes with Shallots



6 large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided in half
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  with rack in lowest position
Toss halved shallots with 1 1/2 TBS olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a 13 by 9 inch baking pan
Roast stirring occaisionally until shallots are golden (about 30 minutes).
Toss potatoes with remaining 1 1/2 TBS of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl, then add to the shallots.
Roast turning occasionally until vegetables are tender and potatoes are crusty (about 40 - 50 minutes).

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