The other week, I was picking up some groceries at my friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s. I had to get some milk and, I think, some ingredients for a recipe. Whatever the reason was, I picked up a bag of shallots. I’d used them before—actually, I’ve loved them ever since I roasted sliced shallots with green beans for a brunch a few summers ago—but I hadn’t purchased any in a long while. It was a whim. While I was waiting to pay for my food, an old man behind me in line looked at my purchases and then at me and said, “Looks like you’re a fine cook, my lady. You have shallots, butter—all the necessities.” I smiled, thanked him, and thought to myself, yes, I must have all the necessities.
And ever since then, I’ve been using shallots in everything.
I put them into my homemade salad dressing of a few posts ago; I sautéed them with a pepper a week or so ago. Last night, I sautéed them in olive oil with yellow summer squash and salt and pepper. I find sautéing squash a little challenging (and yet I continue to do it!), but this time, I just stuck a lid on the pan and let the heat and the moisture from the squash and oil do the trick. The squash was nice and tender and sweet. The shallots, on the other either browned and crisped up nicely—there’s nothing like a caramelized shallot—or got translucent and almost creamy. They were both delicious. I’ve gone so far with my obsession with shallots that I even toyed with the idea of replacing the halved onion in Marcella Hazan’s onion and butter tomato sauce with a few halved shallots. I didn’t—I had a guest for dinner that night—but I’m still curious on how it would turn out…
Shallots are a member of the onion, or allium, family. There are several different kinds of shallots, but the kinds I most often see are round or high round French shallots. They are sweeter and milder than onions, but more nutritious! See www.shallot.com for these facts and more, including storage tips and recipes. I do urge you to try shallots, if you never have—they’re delicious. And they’re such elegant onions—they make almost any meal seem fancy!