Ah, shallots. Or maybe, no, not shallots. What are shallots? Is it the same thing as a chive? What about scallions? Can I swap one in for the other? Take a few deep breaths and try to suppress all those questions. We know that if you're not the best home cook, a lot of ingredients tend to blend into one another. It also doesn't help when they're part of the same family and tend to look alike. But, you can find some comfort here because we're going to break down everything you need to know about shallots and how you can use them in recipes.
The main question is what the heck are they? That's easy: they're alliums, which means they belong to the same family as onions, garlic, chives, scallions, and leeks. Those are the more popular guys in the family, anyhow. And in case you're wondering, alliums are just the bulbous plants responsible for creating all the aforementioned vegetables (plus hundreds of species).
Even though they look the same, there are noticeable differences in taste and texture between all these family members (particularly the onion). Shallots differ from the onion in a couple distinct ways:
They're also confused quite often for the scallion, but there are key contrasts here as well:
When compared to the other members of their family, the distinctions between them are quite noticeable. For example, chives aren't used as a whole ingredient in dishes. It's much milder than the others and is often only sprinkled on salads or used as a garnish.
Garlic, on the other hand, can be used as a full ingredient in recipes. It's also well-known for its unmistakable flavor, just like the onion. Shallots are sort of the hybrid between onions and garlic, so if you want something that offers both flavors without the high potency, this guy is the way to go. You'll also be able to tell the difference right away from their look since garlic is a white bulb whereas shallots are often brown or red.
The easiest way to prepare shallots for cooking is to lay them on a cutting board and slice off the top and bottom. From there, just peel the skin away and pull apart the bulbs. The bulbs can then be sliced according to your tastes and what the recipe calls for.
An important thing to note about shallots is that even though they're not as potent as traditional onions, you're still going to taste it. There's no need to add more shallots into a recipe if you're swapping out onions.
Which brings us to our next point. You're probably wondering, since they're so close in taste and shape, if you can swap shallots with onions when you're cooking. The simple answer is yes, with some things to keep in mind.
If you're considering swapping shallots with onions then remember that the taste will differ slightly. Shallots have a much less noticeable flavor so if you're using onions in their place, use a smaller amount. This is especially true if a recipe calls for raw shallots because raw onions are going to be overpowering if you use too much of it. It's also worth remembering that shallots are smaller than onions, which is an additional reason to use onion sparingly if you're interchanging them.
A general rule to keep in mind is that one small onion is the equivalent of three small shallots. Swap accordingly and remember this ratio when you're switching in an onion.
The flavor of shallots really stands out when you eat them raw. That's why they're often eaten this way and why you should consider it as well. Raw shallots can be added to an assortment of salads whereas prepared shallots go a long way with vinaigrettes, dips, tofu dishes, and roasted as side dishes.
This splendid side salad uses only a few ingredients to bring the flavor to your plate. Tomatoes, shallots, olive oil, and vinegar are the only things you need to bring this creation to life. Don't forget to top with your seasoning of choice to make this salad really pop.
If you're looking to whip up something a little heartier than potatoes and shallots are the way to go. Roast these two together to get a tasty side plate that can be served alongside multiple entrees like steak, chicken, or even tofu.
There are hundreds of recipes out there that use shallots, so even if you didn't know what they were before, you'll soon be using them in just about everything.
Understanding the differences between shallots and its family members isn't all that tough. Admittedly, it can be a little confusing when you walk into a store without any previous knowledge of the allium clan, but now that you know the basics you'll have no trouble making a delicious dinner for you and your loved ones.
This sauce is fantastic for red meats such as steaks or roasts. The shallots and red wine combine with the veal stock to create an intensely rich, flavorful sauce. You'll want to keep those shallots on hand because this sauce changes how you'll enjoy your red meats.