April 21, 2008

Planting shallots in my garden

Do you use shallots in your recipes?

Shallots, because of their mild, delicate, yet rich flavor, have long been considered the most elegant members of the onion family.  Their Latin name, Allium ascalonicum, is said to be derived from the ancient Palestinian port of Askalon.  And it’s believed that crusaders, returning from that part of the world, introduced shallots to Europe, where their popularity quickly spread.  The French, in particular, developed many classic recipes in which shallots are essential ingredients.  But for American cooks, shallots are relative newcomers, and until recent years, they were somewhat difficult to find in the marketplace.

Shallots grow underground in clusters, and like garlic, each cluster is made up of a multiple of large cloves.  Although there are many varieties of shallots, the most common to us are small and tear-shaped, having rose-colored flesh beneath coppery brown skins.  But larger varieties are now being offered, and you can even find these alliums with red and gold skins.  There are even shallots with gray skins which are most prized by French chefs.  Because of their subtle flavor, shallots are useful when only a hint of onion flavor is required.  Raw and chopped, they’re excellent in vinaigrette.  When cooked, shallots melt away, leaving their intriguing flavor behind.  And they’re simply divine when left whole, unpeeled, and roasted, next to a chicken or a roast of meat.

These shallots are Pikant – large French Style – from Johnny’s Selected Seeds www.johnnyseeds.com Catalog description - Large, sound bulbs with mahogany skin and a reddish interior. High yielding and long storing.


Erika forms long, shallow trenches in the prepared raised bed.


Erika explains that, as usual, the pointy tip faces up.


The individual shallots are spaced a generous 6-inches apart as they will multiply about 6 to 8 more times.  It will be fun to show you that later in the summer.


This is how they look before being covered with soil.  Now, all we have to do is water and wait.  According to the planting instructions, the shallots will be ready for picking in about 80 days. I can’t wait to use them in the kitchen!