Shallots have been grown for almost as long as onions, and are the final “bulb vegetable.” Shallots were originally named scallions after Ascalon in Israel, the place from where the Greeks thought the vegetable originated, but shallots probably originally came from Central Asia.
Shallots are widely used in cooking, especially in Europe, specifically France, where small onions are preferred. Although they lack the strong smell of onions and do not make your eyes water, the taste is often more intense yet sweeter than that of onions, and they are used where delicate flavors are needed. The leaves are sometimes used as a substitute for chives, and in rural areas (in Europe) shallots are often used as a substitute for pickling onions.
Shallots are a small form of onion, but instead of growing as single bulbs they tend to grow in clusters. The shapes and colors of shallots vary considerably, and France in particular has a great number of varietals. Some are torpedo-shaped, others are rounded. The color varies from yellow through brown and even red, and the flavors range from delicate to intense.
A 100-gram serving, which is 3.5-ounces, of raw shallots contains only 72 calories, 0.10 grams of total fat, which includes only 0.017 grams of saturated fat. Each serving also offers the benefit of 3.2 grams of fiber, which is approximately 13 percent of the daily value set by the FDA, 2.5 grams of protein and 16.80 grams of carbohydrate.
Shallots contain 34 micrograms of folate, which is just shy of 10 percent of the DV. Folate, also known as folic acid, is one of eight B vitamins. It is essential for brain function and contributes to mental and emotional health. Folate also plays a role in cell development and in the production of your body’s DNA and RNA. It protects against brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy.
Shallots also contain the healthful mineral potassium, which supports many of your body’s functions. Each 3.5-ounce serving of raw shallots contains 334 milligrams of potassium, which is 10 percent of the daily values set by the FDA. Potassium helps your body maintain a steady heartbeat and fluid balance. It plays an important role in activation enzymes in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It’s also essential to proper nerve cell firing, muscle contraction and kidney function.