So much more than an onion, the super-sexy allium has a sweeter, subtler flavour than its bigger counterpart. Shallots are packed with micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins. It brings elegance to the pan, elevating the often-under-rated onion oeuvre while increasing your intake of micronutrients, protein and fiber.
And did you know that some of the world’s best shallots are homegrown in South Africa at one of the Dutoit farms? Transported straight from the farm to a supermarket near you, SA’s only commercially available shallots are fabulously fresh, bringing foodie finesse to Saffer kitchens across the country. The season is short so don’t miss out!
Available from January to May only, shallots add French ‘je ne sais quoi’ – that elusive quality that cannot easily be named – to the table… or braai. Vincent Hewitt, Marketer at Dutoit says, “Nourished with the pure mountain waters of the Koue Bokkeveld, South Africa’s shallots are grown north of Ceres, surrounded by shrubland. The farm was founded over 120 years ago in 1893 and has been farmed by the Dutoit family ever since. We take great pride in the quality of our onions and in offering something special and unique to the South African public.”
A favourite with chefs everywhere, the shallot differs from the everyday onion in some fundamental ways. Firstly, it grows like garlic, in clusters rather than single bulbs. Secondly, it has a softer flavour, bringing all the essence of an onion without the punch. Thirdly, it’s smaller and a little more oval-shaped. It is sublime in salads and is the essence of the bearnaise – that ambitious sauce that’s a must-to-master by all aspiring cooks.
Here are a few reasons why the shallot belongs in the modern South African kitchen:
- It really is an ideal seasoning. Take an ordinary potato salad and turn it into something special with raw, finely chopped shallots and a white wine vinegar dressing…
- It’s a beauty on the braai. Simply wrap it in tinfoil and cook it on the coals. Unwrap it gently and add its elegant charred sweetness to other roast vegetables – or eat it as is.
- Local is lekker. There’s something special about cutting out the middleman and purchasing home-harvested produce you know has come straight from the farm. There’s the added pleasure of knowing your purchase goes towards supporting Dutoit’s tight-knit farming community. It’s farm-to-table at its best!
- It’s toasty-roasty. South Africans are very good at roasts – lamb, chicken, beef… Shallots take this to a whole new level.
- It’s saucy. Aside from the elusive bearnaise, shallots add something sublime to any sauce: think shallot and red wine sauce, balsamic-shallot sauce, or a creamy mushroom-shallot concoction.
- It pairs exquisitely with our wines. Shallots and wine go together like… shallots and wine. Sauté the exquisite alliums in butter until soft and their delicate earthiness will elevate any accompanying vintage – white or red. Add fresh tomatoes with a lighter-bodied red, or pop in carrots and tarragon to go with a dry Sauvignon. A top tip? Deglaze the shallot pan with your chosen wine…
- It’ll make you feel like you’re on Masterchef. If you’ve watched Masterchef, you know the shallot is a favourite with contestants. Using shallots will make you feel like you’re on the show and perhaps add extra flair to your cooking game. There’s a whole new world of recipes, waiting for you.
Vincent concludes, “We are delighted that so many South Africans are loving our shallots! We’ve seen these onions grow in popularity dramatically in the last few years as more and more chefs call them kitchen essentials. Our shallots are carefully grown. Only the best vegetables pass the test as our promise is to deliver world-class produce to local kitchens. We encourage you to try them; their subtlety will have you hooked in no time! The season is relatively short – from January to May – so don’t miss out.”
Dutoit is the only commercial producer of shallots in South Africa. It advocates a farm-to-table approach, with its produce going straight to stores to be directly available to the public. This guarantees freshness and top-notch quality.