As a member of the Allium family, I think of the shallot as onion’s daintier cousin; piquant and zesty, it is milder, and more refined. 

shallotIt has a subtle flavor that is similar to onion yet distinct in its own right. Some people call it a SHAH-let and some call it a shuh-LOT, whichever you choose makes no difference to its flavor impact to your meal.

While it tastes more like an onion, the shallot looks more like garlic and grows in a segmented bulb similar to the garlic. The outer covering is often a lovely shade of red maroon sometimes varying to copper and the inner flesh is pearly with hints of rose coloring.

From a culinary perspective, shallots can be used in much the same way as onions. They impart a more delicate flavor and texture making them a great addition to culinary endeavors even when raw. I tend to use shallots much more often than onions, tossing them in salads, sautéing them in eggs or veggies, or caramelizing them for more complexity. Interestingly, while I tend to swap onions for shallots, I wouldn’t really do it the other way around, if a recipe calls for a shallot it may need the mild flavoring and to substitute an onion could overpower. This is why I tend to keep plenty of shallots on hand.

caramelizedshallotsFrom a health perspective, shallots are in the allium family so all of the goodness that you find in garlic and onions, you will find in the shallot and then some. Shallots have a higher nutrient density than the onion and pack quite an antioxidant punch. They are high in chemical compounds that convert it allicin, which is in turn beneficial for lowering cholesterol, improving liver function, lowering blood sugar, and even inhibiting the potential for cell mutations that contribute to cancer. Shallots are also anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial making them a great addition to your diet during flu season (although, including them year round will build your immune function). They are high in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, potassium, iron, copper, and believe it or not, calcium. If you haven't tried the lovely little shallot yet, I say, give it a go and let it work its magic in your kitchen.