Sharing Shallots

Shallots (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) share a species with onions. Both share the genus Allium with chivesscallionsleeksgarlic, elephant garlic, and rakkyo. All of these species, belong, in turn, to the Amaryllidaceae family, which includes many ornamentals, such as the belladonna lily, tuberose, snowdrop, snowflake, daffodil, Cape tulip, Peruvian lily, and amaryllis.

The ancient Greeks gave shallots their name when their traders discovered them in the ancient Palestinian port of Ashkalon (now Ashkelon in Israel) and named them after the city. Pliny the Elder described the “Ascalon” onion, shallot, in his Natural History, AD 77.

Shallots were re-introduced to Europe by the crusaders returning from the Middle East in the 11th century. Hernando de Soto may have brought shallots to the United States during his Louisiana explorations in the early 16th century.

Shallots can:

  1. Promote cardiovascular health. The vitamin B6 in shallots helps prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood, which in turn lowers your risk for heart attack and stroke. The fiber in shallots can help lower cholesterol. Allicin is a sulphur-containing phytochemical that is formed when shallots are crushed, chopped, or chewed, breaking the cells, and mixing their thio-sulfinite antioxidants, such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, allyl propyl disulfide, and alliin with the enzyme, alliinase. Allicin can:
    • Reduce cholesterol production by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in your liver cells.
    • Reduce blood pressure by decreasing blood vessel stiffness by releasing a vasodilator compound, nitric oxide (NO).
    • Block platelet clot formation and provide fibrinolytic (clot-removal) action in your blood vessels, which helps decrease your overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
  2. Fight free radicalsManganese in shallots is a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. The vitamin C in shallots functions as an antioxidant and prevents oxygen-based damage to your cells. It helps prevent cancer by neutralizing volatile oxygen free radical molecules and preventing damage to your DNA that can lead to cancer and by destabilizing a tumor’s ability to grow under oxygen-starved conditions.
  3. Promote healthy vision. The vitamin A in shallots promotes healthy vision.
  4. Promote healthy skin and mucous membranes. The vitamin A in shallots promotes healthy skin and mucous membranes. The vitamin C in shallots helps produce collagen, which supports strong mucous membranes and other supporting cells and tissues.
  5. Build strong bones and teeth. The vitamin A in shallots promotes bone and tooth growth. Manganese in shallots facilitates formation of bone. The vitamin C in shallots helps produce collagen, which supports strong bones and gums.
  6. Support a healthy immune system. The vitamin A in shallots promotes immune system health. The vitamin C in shallots supports your immune system, processes toxins for elimination, and acts as an antihistamine. Allicin in shallots can inhibit bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in your digestive tract, including Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for gastric ulcers that increases your risk for stomach cancer.
  7. Support a healthy nervous system. The vitamin B6 in shallots supports a wide range of activities in your nervous system.
  8. Give you energy and strength. The vitamin B6 in shallots promotes proper breakdown of sugars and starches. Manganese in shallots  activates enzymes for using several key nutrients and facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

Nutrients in 100 Grams Chopped Shallots

Nutrient

Amount

Daily Value

vitamin A

1190 IU

24%

vitamin B6

0.3 mg

17%

manganese

0.3 mg

15%

vitamin C

8 mg

13%

fiber

3.2 g

13%

potassium

334 mg

10%

folate

34 µg

8%

iron

1.2 mg

7%

phosphorus

60 mg

6%

carbohydrates

16.8 g

6%

magnesium

21 mg

5%

protein

2.5 g

5%

calcium

37 mg

4%

thiamine

0.1 mg

4%

copper

0.1 mg

4%

Calories

72

3.6%

zinc

0.4 mg

3%

pantothenic acid

0.3 mg

3%

selenium

1.2 µg

2%

sodium

12 mg

1%

vitamin K

0.8 µg

1%

niacin

0.2 mg

1%

riboflavin

0.02 mg

1%

fat

0.1 g

0.15%

vitamin E

0.04 mg

0.12%

cholesterol

0 mg

0%

As a cool-season bulb, shallots grow all year round, though they’re most plentiful in the summer.

Shallots come in a number of different types. The brown shallot (also called the English or Dutch) is the most common variety found in U.S. supermarkets. It is small with thin, brown, papery skin. Pink shallots are crunchier but still mild. Other types include the Gray (which is popular in France), the Dutch Yellow (which is strongly flavored and stores well) and the French Red (which tastes a bit spicier). The largest shallot variety is the Banana, which is quite mild.

Shallots are shaped much like garlic cloves. They even come covered with papery skin like a garlic bulb (though it’s browner). A good shallot is firm and unscarred, with no bruising, mold or soft spots.

Like fresh garlic, shallots can be stored at room temperature in a dark, dry place, like a drawer, cupboard or pantry.

Prepping shallots is a lot like getting garlic ready for a recipe. Simply trim each end, peel away the skin and slice thinly. For larger varieties, like the Banana shallot, you may want to dice it this way: Begin by using a paring knife to cut the shallot in half lengthwise. Then, setting each half on its flat side, make a series of close parallel cuts in one direction, being careful to not quite reach the bottom. Then, turn your knife 90 degrees and do the same thing again. Now, turn the shallot on its side, cut away the many small diced pieces and discard the thin, uncut base.

Here are some ideas for using shallots:

  1. For a classic salad dressing put a chopped shallot in a screw-top jar, add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, three tablespoons of pomegranate juice and a twist of black pepper. Put the lid on tightly and shake together.
  2. Try tossing chopped shallots together with lightly steamed green beans, halved cherry tomatoes, and a light, lemon dressing for a delicious and healthy salad.
  3. Use sautéed shallots as a base for sauces. Heat water or broth to a medium heat in a non-stick pan then add chopped shallots and sauté for a few minutes until they start to change color. Be aware that the high sugar content of shallots can cause them to burn if the pan is too hot.
  4. Shallots have a lower water content than onions and produce a firmer and more pungent result when stir-fried. Add a mixture of chopped shallots, chillies, ginger, and coriander to your favorite stir-fry ingredients.
  5. Cooking shallots either chopped or whole in a spritz of oil over low to medium heat will produce a wonderful caramelized result.
  6. Peel whole shallots, place them on a shallow baking tray and spritz on a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Thread whole shallots onto skewers, alternating with pieces of bell pepper and barbecue over hot coals.

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s