Welcome to Amore Della Settimana
In this blog I feature my culinary love of the week and lots of different ways to use it. I tend to get pretty excited when I find an ingredient that exponentially increases the flavor of food. And that’s what I’ll share with you here.
This week: the shallot. Although it may often be considered an ‘onion lite,’ this little allium can be transformed into a magical flavor enhancer in three easy ways.
Crisping chopped or sliced shallots is super easy to do. Peel a few shallots, chop, dice, or slice, and toss into a small sauté pan. Cover with extra virgin olive oil and cook on medium-low heat. Slow cook until they start to brown and crisp. I like mine on the crispier side. Watch them, as once the crisping begins, it can speed up pretty quickly. When they are at the desired crispness, drain on a paper towel and store them in the fridge. If you are using them the same day, keep at room temperature.
Eggs. All things eggs. Before I scramble eggs, I crisp up shallots in a large pan. Once they are at the perfect texture, I add the eggs and some shredded cheese. These are not your every day scrambled eggs. My weekend guests have come to expect them on Sunday mornings. Maybe even demand.
This goes for quiches, frittatas, omelets, stir them into the eggs or sprinkle on top once the eggs are cooked. Or both!
It’s also a perfect way to make your vegetables more interesting. Asparagus, green beans, baked potato.
Soups. A garnish or ‘crouton’ of crispy shallots elevates any creamy soup to gourmet levels. I recently put them atop a cream of broccoli and it was beyond delicious. Think cream of mushroom, potato, butternut squash, tomato, and more. But make plenty of shallots. You will get requests for seconds, and probably thirds.
You can roast a shallot much like you roast garlic. First let’s start with the basic roasting. Put whole shallots in a shallow roasting pan and preheat oven to 375º. Pour a generous portion of olive oil over the shallots and stir. Place in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Turn once or twice and let them bubble and pop and fill your kitchen with their savory aromas.
Once the shallots have cooled, trim off an end and squeeze out the center. This pulp is a game changer. Mix it into your mashed potatoes. Or use it as a salad dressing base. You can also simply spread it over a baguette slice, maybe top it with a sprig of dried thyme or rosemary, and a slice of sturdy cheese. If you’ve ever made roasted garlic soup, simply change out the garlic for shallots. Or stir it into a dip with either equal parts cream cheese and sour cream, or equal parts sour cream and mayo. And . . . wait for it . . . top it with crispy shallots.
Another roasting option is to peel the tough outer layers of the shallot, mix the shallots with olive oil, a splash of a really good balsamic, my favorite is fig, and roast away, turning frequently. These make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish on their own. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I’ve always been a little daunted when the word ‘pickled’ appears in a recipe. I think of mason jars and sealing lids and finding a shelf in a scary basement to store them. But pickling shallots can take as little as ten minutes and it’s worth the three minutes it takes you to prepare them.
Stir them into egg salad. (I always add a sprinkle of curry powder to my egg salad. Game changer.)
Make them the star of a salad.
Top a deviled egg.
Put over a slice of cheese on a cracker.
The possibilities are endless.
We salute you tiny shallot.
Chop 2 - 3 shallots
Drop into 1/4 vinegar (some use balsamic, white works for me)
Stir in 1 T sugar and 1/2 t salt.
Mix until the sugar and salt dissolve and set aside.
When you are ready to use them, drain and go. Or store in a refrigerator until you need them.