Heralded internationally for their mild flavour and nutritional and medicinal properties, shallots feature in dishes from Southeast Asia, all the way to France and the United Kingdom. Forming part of the Allium cepa species, shallots resemble onions but their distinctive flavour is more delicate and slightly sweeter than their larger, sharper and more common counterparts.
There is evidence to show that like other members of the allium family (garlic, leeks, onions and chives), shallots possess cancer preventative actions[i]. These are founded in the sulphur containing compounds, which give shallots their distinctive and sometimes tear-inducing smell. These compounds are incredibly important in deactivating carcinogens, as they are high in antioxidants. Shallots have a higher flavonoid and phenolic content than onions, and these phytochemicals contribute to higher amounts of antioxidants that provide even more protection.
In addition, they boost blood circulation in the body, reducing stress on the cardiovascular system and in turn helping to prevent atherosclerosis and coronary heart diseases. Shallots are also a rich source of vitamins A, B, C and E and minerals.
Despite their great flavour and significant nutritional properties, shallots are often overlooked as simply part of the base of a dish. UK Shallot is keen to change this image and to push British-grown shallots to the forefront of dishes and give them the celebration they deserve. They recently reached out to me to create a shallot-focused menu and to host an intimate supper showcase, shining a spotlight on shallots.
We wanted to dispel the notion that shallots should only be used in traditional cooking as part of heavy slow cooked stews or sauces and to instead create fresh and innovative ways to use shallots. I also wanted the menu to reflect the versatility and universal appeal of shallots and so drew inspirational from cuisine around the world. Below is the complete menu and I will be sharing some recipes from it with you on the blog, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Canapés: Roast shallot croustades with Godminster Cheddar cream
Salad platters: Burmese tomato salad with crispy fried shallots
Roast corn and charred shallot salad with radishes and chipotle and cumin dressing
Little gem chicken taco salad with home pickled shallots
Red and wild rice salad with sesame salmon and watercress with sautéed shallot and ginger dressing
Cheese: Godminster Cheeseboard with crackers and homemade pear and shallot chutney
For more recipe inspiration and to find out more about the power of shallots visit ukshallot.com or @UKshallots on Twitter/ Instagram.
Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties.