What is a shallot?
Shallots are part of the allium family, and are related to onions, chives, and garlic. While onions and garlic tend to be popular ingredients for recipes, shallots rarely get the chance to take centerstage – but when given the chance, they shine!
Since they are a secret favorite ingredient amongst professional chefs, it’s no wonder so many recipes using them are finally coming out!
What’s the difference between shallots and onions?
Shallots provide great flavor depth as an onion would do, but are more subtle and delicate without the classic sharpness that onions give. You could use a shallot in place of yellow onions (and vice versa) with a 1:1 ratio in volume.
What do they taste like?
Shallots taste like a sweeter and more delicate onion, but with slight hints of garlic. Because they are milder than regular onions, they do especially well when swapped in for recipes where onions need to be raw – think salads, dressings, and sandwiches.
I want to buy some, but what do they look like?
They look like elongated and flatter versions of onions (which make them easier to slice, in my opinion). They are similar to their onion counterparts in that they have a flaky/papery skin, except they are usually a pink-coppery color (almost like a rose gold). After being peeled, they will separate similarly like garlic cloves, and their flesh is mostly white and a pale purple.
Now Taking Center Stage
As mentioned, we’re starting to see a lot more recipes use shallots in replace of onions, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! A few of these recipes are vegetarian but can be changed up with different pastas, different vegetables or the addition of proteins as well. Here we give you a list of our favorite shallot pastas to start on your venture!
1. Alison Roman’s Caramelized Shallot Pasta
If there’s one person who helped to popularize the use of shallots, it would be Alison Roman. Not only is she a recurring chef on NY Times, but her caramelized shallot pasta YouTube video has received rave reviews and almost 700k video views (at the time of writing this).
The shallots in this recipe are caramelized with garlic and spices until they are golden brown on their edges, which brings out their best flavor. Once caramelized, the addition of the tomato paste and anchovies add a tanginess to create an umami flavor (umami is known as the fifth flavor that combines both the salty and the sweet). It is the combination of shallots and anchovies that provide such a flavor-bursting pasta sauce.
The meal has a slight heat to it which makes it perfect for adults, but without the red pepper flakes, would work for kids too. If you’re not a fan of anchovies we have a list of vegan substitutions, located here. The flavors are bold and we love that it’s topped off with garlic and parsley, which is a nice deviation from the typical sprinkle of cheese.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 large shallots, sliced very thinly
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- 1 tsp red-pepper flakes
- 1, 2 oz can anchovy fillets (about 12 anchovies), drained but not rinsed
- 1, 6 oz can tomato paste
- 10 oz pasta (any long or tubular pasta – like bucatini or spaghetti)
- Parsley to top (optional)
- Parmasean (optional)
- Flaky salt (optional)
Get the full recipe and directions from NY Times
2. Pasta with Pancetta, Shallots and Sage
This is a great rigatoni dish with complex flavors, but has a fairly quick cook time. The pancetta in this dish actually plays an important part – the saltiness of it helps to balance the sweetness of this dish. While you could technically use any type of noodle for this recipe, we like pairing saucy dishes with tubular pastas (like rigatoni which hold all the saucy goodness and pancetta in each bite).
The fresh tomatoes add a great freshness to the dish and help to complement the spiciness of the red pepper. If you are serving this to children, the dish can be made without the red pepper and still be quite tasty. The recipe could easily be made using leftover ham to replace the pancetta, and we love that the pancetta and veggies can be made in advance.
Get the full recipe and directions from FoodandWine.com
3. Lemon Shallot Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
The flavor profile of this dish is sassy! With lemon, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, this combination is both complex and zesty. And since this sauce is on the lighter side, it makes a good option for both dinner and lunch.
While it is a vegetarian recipe, we added chicken to the version we made and it was stellar! The sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes really elevate this recipe, and with all of its color and flavor, it is a definite ‘wow’ dish and is perfect for hosting!
Get the full recipe and directions from The Pasta Shoppe
4. 10-Shallot Spaghetti with Kale
Ever since kale became such a huge craze, I’ve really tried to add it anywhere possible. Eventually you get to the point where you can only do so many smoothies with kale being thrown in. So I love when I can add a ton of kale into a hot meal. Enter this shallot spaghetti with kale!
We added this vegetarian dish to the list which uses lots of kale to create a light and tasty pasta. With under 10 ingredients and an easy sauce to create, this recipe is a quick weeknight no-fuss kind of meal. And with kale being so easy to come by these days, you can even buy it in bulk at Costco. Plus it’s such a flavorful pasta dish, that your kids won’t even realize they’re eating so many veggies.
Get the full recipe and directions from Rachel Ray Magazine
5. Pea Pasta with Shallot Cream Sauce
A very rich and creamy pasta dish that’s lightened up with crisp green peas which makes it perfect for spring or summer. Heavy cream and milk, along with shallots are the base of this buttery white-sauced pasta. The peas along with added lemon zest add color and brighten up the meal.
This is another great vegetarian dish that is perfect as is with lots of protein-rich peas, but can be made more substantial with added protein like chicken. Definitely a crowd please and perfect as a side dish too. And we love that you can get the same luxurious effect using frozen peas!
Get the full recipe and directions from Naturally Ella
6. Cacio e Pepe and Shallots
Cacio e pepe literally translates to ‘cheese and pepper’, and is known as the Italian’s minimalist and elegant version of the mac and cheese. Its traditional ingredients are black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and tonnarelli or spaghetti pasta. But this recipe is a fun and yummy twist to this popular Italian staple.
I remember the first time I watched someone make cacio e pepe. It was a slow and beautiful process and I was amazed at how so few ingredients could come together into such a decadent sauce. The secret to this creamy sauce is in the process of slowly adding starch-filled pasta water into freshly grated pecorino – it makes a creamy sauce, but without the cream!
So as you can imagine, I was so excited to try an even more elevated version! Cacio e pepe is one of those very delicate flavor profiles, so adding any garlic or onions would be way too overpowering. I cannot believe I never even thought of adding shallots to it instead!
You get a slight hint of onion and garlic from the shallots, which helps cut through the richness of the cheese. What you’re left with is impactful flavor but without over shadowing the stars of this recipe.
Get the full recipe and directions from The Flavor Journal
7. Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Add another dimension to your run-of-the-mill mushroom sauce by incorporating shallots! Now to be honest, I’ve never met a mushroom sauce that I didn’t like…Especially if it was a creamy mushroom sauce! But this recipe really takes it to the next level!
The trifecta of the subtle sweetness, the heat from the red pepper flakes, and the creamy mushrooms makes this such a flavor bomb. no one will even believe that this entire recipe takes less than 30 mins to make from start to finish. Plus added bonus: this sauce tastes even better on the 2nd and 3rd days due to the mushrooms continuing to soak in the sauce. Can you say, “mmm left overs”?
Get the full recipe and directions from Family Style Food
We’ve given you a few different types of pasta dishes that include shallots in different ways. Let us know if you end up giving one a try. If you’re planning to, which one would you attempt making first?
If you liked these recipes, definitely check out our review of Alison Roman’s Caramelized Shallot Pasta. There’s some great tips and tricks for making the recipe there.