Shallots and Other Types of Onions
Onions are very good for your health. Packed full of vitamins and nutrients, these bulbs help to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. But, did you know that there are many different types of onion each which their own distinct flavours and benefits? One such being the shallot: a more delicate cousin to the onion. In today’s blog, we’ll talk about these vegetables that add depth to any dish and how you can utilise them in your own cooking.
Presumed to have originated in Central or Southwest Asia, these type of onions are a staple of most dishes around the world. Its name comes from Ashkelon, an Ancient Greek city. There are two ways to pronounce shallot:
- shal-lot with emphasis on the last syllable
- shall-ət with emphasis on the first syllable
What’s more, there are three main varieties of shallots:
- French Grey. Referred to as the only “true” shallot, this onion gets its name from its greyish hue.
- Jersey. Found most commonly in US grocery stores, these alliums are pink in colour and function identically to the grey variety.
- Echailon. Known also as “banana” shaped, they have the largeness of a normal onion with the milder flavour of a shallot.
How to Use Them
Being the most versatile of all the onions, shallots can find themselves in soups, sauces, salsas, and salads. Seasonally, they are at their peak in late spring/early summer, but you can generally pick them up any time of the year! Remember to keep them sorted in a cool, dry place — doing so will keep them usable for up to a month. Sautée your shallots with other vegetables, mix them into risottos, or even eat them caramelised on their own! The possibilities are endless.
Other Types of Onions
Consuming only shallots is very easy feat, but here are some other alliums that you should try out!
Lacking the sulphuric punch of regular onions, sweet onions won’t make you cry when you cut them! Its also what makes them taste sweet. While they are not a perfect onion-replacement like the shallot, they can be used raw in salads and relishes.
Looking like blades of grass, chives also bud edible purple flowers. Like shallots, their peak season is in the late spring/early summer. Use chives in your recipes by cutting them fresh from the garden and letting them add a kick to dips and sauces.
Adding a nice variety in colour to a dish, the red onion is sweet and packs a potent amount of flavour. Classically, they are perfect for barbecues as they char nicely on the grill. They can also add a much needed crunch when put raw on a burger.
Unlike shallots and chives, leeks peak season starts in the Autumn and ends at the start of Summer. Looking a lot like scallions/green onions, these onions are milder in taste and very easy to prepare. Traditionally, leeks are prepared with potatoes in a soup or cooked in butter as a tasty side dish.
Green onions, otherwise known as scallions, are related to garlic and onions. Like leeks, all of the green onion can be used when cooking. Providing a crispness to a dish, green onions are a very popular garnish for miso soup.
Rounding off our list of alliums are cipollini. Coming from the Italian for “small onion”, cipollini are delicious eaten whole. They can be roasted, but more often than not they are pickled in balsamic vinegar.