Most foods produce a distinct smell while cooking, but there is only a select few that elicit the “that smells awesome’ response from me while being prepared. The items that bring my olfactory senses to their figurative knees include:
- Bacon: I know vegans that even enjoy the smell of cured pork bellies.
- Coffee: Shannon didn’t drink caffeinated coffee while pregnant, but she loved smelling the beans.
- Bread: We have a Cuban bakery in our neighborhood that makes me want to go on a carb binge every time I drive by.
- Shallots: Doesn’t matter what meal is being prepared. If shallots are being used, I’m salivating and THAT’S one of the reasons why they are today’s menu spotlight.
Shallots belong to the Allium genus of vegetables, which also includes onions, leeks, garlic, etc. I’ve already declared my love for garlic in a previous menu spotlight (click here to check it out), and I often cook garlic & shallots together to double up on the mouth-watering aroma. As much as I would like Yankee Candle to carry a shallot scented candle, its perfume isn’t the main reason I love it so much.
By weight, shallots contain more vitamins and minerals than its larger cousin the onion. Approximately one cup of shallots contains a significant amount of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, copper and iron. They also contain more antioxidants, by weight, than any other Allium vegetable (source). Research suggests that one particular antioxidant possessed by shallots can mitigate the damaging effects of several chronic health conditions.
When you chop or crush a shallot, you cause an enzymatic reaction that produces the sulfur containing antioxidant known as allicin. In specific scientific studies (source), this antioxidant has been shown to:
- Reduce cholesterol.
- Combat viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Protect against certain forms of cancer.
- Regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Who would have thought that the onion mini-me would possess so many health benefits. Honestly, shallots taste & smell so good that I’d still use them even if they didn’t have all the health benefits.
One recipe I frequently add shallots to is my breakfast bowl (pictured above). Besides shallots, the breakfast bowl includes dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.), mushrooms, mini sweet peppers, several eggs and diced tomatoes. I make sure to chop my shallots first because more allicin is produced the longer a chopped/crushed shallot goes uncooked. Next, I saute the mushrooms and peppers till soft (3-5 minutes), chop up a few tomatoes in the meantime, then throw in the greens & shallots for about a minute till the greens wilt.
Using the same pan I cooked the veggies, I fry up several over easy eggs in coconut oil. After the eggs are done, I slid them onto the cooked veggies, add the tomatoes & crushed red pepper and VOILA! Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions.
If you’re a frequent shallot user, I’d love to hear about which dishes you add them to. Send your favorite recipe that features shallots to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on social media (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). I don’t think it will be better than my breakfast bowl, but there’s no shame in being runner-up.