I write one column about leeks and within 24 hours of it being published, I got emails asking me why I didn’t write about shallots because they were more interesting and tasty than leeks.
Seems if you like leeks, you love shallots.
So, what exactly is a shallot? A shallot, like its cousin the onion and garlic, is a member of the alliums family. It is, however, a smaller, sweeter, deeper- and richer-flavored (not to mention more expensive) branch of the family. The shallot, like garlic, grows in clusters. It has a coppery paper-thin skin and its flesh is slightly off-white with a pink or purple hue in some cases.
You can actually substitute shallots for onions, but you’ll need only half the amount that you would an onion. They can be minced or chopped and frozen for up to three months before you need them. When you thaw them, they will be soft so you don’t have to sauté them.
The following recipes range from the super easy to the more complicated. But trust me on this, they’re all delicious and worth the effort. Once you go shallot, you’ll never go back to just plain old onions.
Lemon Shallot Chicken Breasts
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon allspice
8 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh)
3 tablespoons shallots minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a bowl combine the salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon allspice in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over both sides of chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Sear the chicken and then cook for 4 minutes per side. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked (make sure not to overcook). Place the cooked chicken in a large glass baking dish, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven. Do not clean the pan when done cooking the chicken.
Add the wine to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom. Add the broth, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the zest. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, thyme, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Whisk to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the chicken from the oven and cut into slices. Place it on a serving platter, spoon the sauce over the top and serve with the chopped parsley. Serves 8.
Roasted Shallots and Potatoes
I suggest that you use Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe.
6 large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in lowest rung. In a bowl, combine the shallots with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and a pinch of paprika.
Place the potatoes and shallots in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, spreading evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until shallots are golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Spring Roll Salad with Shallot Peanut Sauce
I was given this recipe by a friend after I tried it at her home and instantly fell in love. It is a bit daunting with all the ingredients, but oh my goodness, it’s worth the extra trip to the grocery.
3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 ounces (4 cups loosely packed) fettuccini style rice noodles
2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks (1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the stems off the shiitakes and discard them (or save them for stock). Thinly slice the caps; you should have five cups. Toss the shiitakes in a bowl with the olive oil and soy sauce. Spread the mushrooms out on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
Roast, stirring twice, until the mushrooms are shrunken, browned and fairly crisp, about 40 minutes. Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and set it aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the noodles, and let them sit until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, and rinse the noodles for at least 30 seconds under cold water to prevent sticking.
Toss the noodles in a bowl with the carrots and herbs. Mound a portion of noodles on each plate, and drizzle the peanut sauce (see recipe below) over the top. Sprinkle with the mushrooms and peanuts. Serves 8.
You can use a dash or two of soy sauce to kick it up a bit too
Roasted Shallot Peanut Sauce
3 medium shallots, unpeeled
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the shallots on a parchment-covered baking sheet and roast until they are very tender and the juices have started to ooze out, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the shallots cool slightly, and then squeeze the pulp out of the skins.
Place the shallot pulp and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated for up to a week. Warm before serving. Makes 2 cups.