What is the Shallot

The shallot ( A. ascalonicum L. ) is a plant belonging to the genus Allium, family of the Liliaceae, the same as onion, garlic, leek and chives; not surprisingly, it is quite similar to the onion even if it has considerably smaller dimensions.

The shallot grows with small clumps, has green, thin, skeletal and empty leaves; in July it flowers with small purple flowers which then mature into black seeds. Of the shallot are sold mainly two varieties, one small and precocious (more valuable) and one late and larger (less intense).

The shallot has been cultivated since ancient times but what is strange is that NOT purely spontaneous manifestations are found; therefore, tracing back to the possible area of ​​origin is complicated. Historical documents place it both in Central Asia and in Palestine and Egypt, but not everyone agrees that it is a native spontaneous plant; consequently, it is possible that even in these places it represented a post-cultural proliferation.

NB . Contrary to what many claim, the shallot is NOT a cross between the yellow onion and garlic, but a botanical species in its own right.


Shallots are grown similarly to onions; in the famous "rotation" of the crops, they are always placed in the last place, then after the plants that make the most use of the soil. The shallot prefers a soft soil, rich in humus, better if previously fertilized with compost; it needs a covered soil (since the previous autumn) with mulch of dry leaves or straw, possibly inside a flowerbed positioned in the sun. The nutritive supplement for the soil of the shallot consists of fertilizers rich in potassium (such as wood ash), useful for possible intercropping with carrots, but NOT from fertilizers rich in nitrogen (manure or manure); it is essential to ALWAYS avoid FRESH manure. The shallot does not require special care, except for the maintenance of the soft and free of weeds.

WARNING! The shallot has roots and adventitious bulbs that develop horizontally and it is not rare that, hoeing, these are cut off damaging the mother plant.

The shallot has bulbs (or better, bulbils ) the size of a walnut, which are buried in "ridged rows" (rows in relief) at a depth that allows them to emerge for at least 1/3 of the total; the operation must be performed between February and April, maintaining a distance of about 10cm between the plants and 40cm (always more than 25cm) between the rows. Shallots are harvested when the leaves that surround it turn yellow.

NB . The shallots bulbils can be produced independently by planting (separately and in greenhouses) the seeds very "thickly".

Pairings in the kitchen

The shallot lends itself to the combination with all food groups and the French, compared to the rest of Europe, are large consumers. At the same time, in Italy the first courses based on shallots and dry pasta (linguine allo scallion) and scallion and rice based (risotto in which it is used instead of onion) are well known; the dishes are no less important, among which there are more recipes based on chicken and turkey breast, and fresh ham (pork leg). The shallot-fish pairing also does not disappoint; the most commonly used species are sea bass (sea bass), cod (or hake) and sole, but they are certainly not the only ones. Like onion, shallot is the "king" of omelettes and it does not look good in association with highly structured cheeses such as gorgonzola or aged pecorino. Despite the intense taste and aroma, the shallot also lends itself to the preparation of recipes with truffles without covering their specific characteristics. The shallot also enhances the taste of dishes containing peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, radicchio, broad beans, potatoes, turnips, squash and aubergines.

Nutritional composition per 100 grams of edible portion of shallot :

Nutritional values ​​(per 100 g of edible portion)

Edible part83%
water79, 8g
Lipids TOT0.1g
Cholesterol0, 0mg
Phytosterols0, 005g
B.C. saturated fats0, 017g
B.C. monounsaturated fats0, 014g
B.C. polyunsaturated fats0, 039g
TOT Carbohydrates16, 8g
Starch- g
Soluble sugars- g
Dietary fiber- g
Power72, 0kcal
Sodium12, omg
Potassium334, 0mg
Football37, 0mg
Phosphorus60, 0mg
Thiamine0, 06mg
Riboflavin0, 02mg
Vitamin A60, 0μg
C vitamin8, 0mg
Vitamin E- mg

To use it in collective lunches and dinners "putting everyone in agreement" it is possible to exclude it from generic recipes and serve it separately in the form of "shallot sauce" or "shallot flavored oil".

Therapeutic properties

Shallots, like garlic and onion, make use of numerous "metabolic qualities"; it has some molecules ( allicin or ajoene and adenosine ) useful for: regulation of blood pressure, diuresis, reduction of platelet aggregation, reduction of LDL cholesterol, reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation etc., therefore it constitutes a food suitable for diet against cardio-vascular risk (in opposition to atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.).

A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the long-lived population of Campodimele (Latina) has brought to light that, in the traditional diet of the place, one of the most consumed dishes is: bread with raw shallot (NOT COOKED) and oil extra virgin olive oil . It is therefore not to be excluded that, synergistically with other factors (eg the richness in antioxidants), a diet rich in raw shallots can reduce the overall cardiovascular risk.


Shallots, like onion and garlic, have a very high content of aromatic substances; these, which tend to "recur" during digestive belching, are misinterpreted as a sense of heaviness in the meal. In reality, the aromatic components have nothing to do with the digestibility of the shallot, which is lighter than other vegetables of greater consumption. Moreover, again because of its aromatic characteristics, the shallot tends inexorably to catch the breath; if necessary, it is possible to combat this undesirable effect by chewing raw vegetables, or rather, some aromatic herbs such as parsley, basil, mint and rocket.


  1. The way of herbs. The use of spices in the kitchen - M. Crescenzi, R. Russo - Edizioni - pag 39
  2. Vegetable garden and organic garden - ML Kreuter - Giunti - pag 157
  3. Hypertension . Treat it at the table - B. Brigo, G. Capano - Tecniche Nuove - pag. 48.


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