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Shallots are about the size of a head of garlic (as seen in this photo). When sliced into, they’ll sometimes be a pretty shade of reddish-purple, similar to that of a red onion.

Another favorite cooking ingredient of mine: a shallot tastes like a cross between a garlic and an onion. Similar in size to a head of garlic, shallots have an outer skin that must be peeled before using. They’re milder than onions but have a richer, deeper and more complex flavor than onions, especially after being sautéed in a little butter and oil. They cook up quickly and chefs love their sweet, aromatic flavor.

Found in the produce section, look for firm shallots with dry skin. If they seem moist to you, or have begun to sprout – avoid them. Store them in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator) and they’ll keep for about a month.

Serving Suggestions:

– In their raw form, their delicate flavor makes a wonderful addition when sliced and added to salads.

– Roast them whole for an interesting side dish (coat with oil, and season them first).

– Sauté sliced shallots in a little butter and oil until they are crisp, season with salt and pepper, then use them to top off your green beans.

– Add slices or minced shallots to your homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes.

– If you need just a small amount of chopped or minced onion, they make a great substitute.

– Mince shallots and mix with softened butter and chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper and stuff under the skin of chicken before roasting.

Most of my students have never heard of shallots, but they quickly fall in love with their unique taste. Once you start using shallots in your kitchen, you’ll never stop!