What’s cooking today: Roast shallots, air fryer style
Shallots, garlic, herbs and an air fryer. That makes for a delicious side dish and will be ready in minutes.
The dearth of shallots in South African stores and at markets continues to baffle and perplex me. Surely there’s enough of a market for these superb, sweet and mild-flavoured alliums to be readily available? (I have banged this drum before.)
A shallot is a type of onion, small and oval with points at either end, though other varieties are rounder. The variety we usually find (not that we often do) is whitish-pink, verging on purple in parts, and has a flavour profile that sets it higher, in palate appeal, to most onions. Nor is it much like the leek, and it’s far removed from garlic in that the shallot is very much at the milder end of the flavour scale. Leeks are mild, too, but their flavour is nothing like that of the shallot.
Shallots are an important ingredient in fine cuisine for their subtlety, and are considered by many chefs to be preferable to most onions.
If, however, you cannot get shallots, and want a milder flavour, opt for red onions as they are sweeter and a touch milder than white varieties. You could try this recipe with small red onions, quartered, but try to find shallots if you can.
And if you would like to find shallots more regularly, and more of them, in our shops, have a good whinge to your store manager about it. We need to end the dearth of these wonderful vegetables.
My daughter gave me a bottle of quality rosemary-infused olive oil as a gift when she visited from England, and I used a little of it to cook these shallots in an air fryer. But use any olive oil you like, and use either only thyme, or plenty of thyme and a sprig or two of rosemary, in the mix.
(Serves 2 as a side dish)
8 shallots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
4 whole garlic cloves, dehusked
A few rosemary sprigs
Salt and black pepper to taste
A modest splash of rosemary olive oil, or plain olive oil
Preheat the air fryer at 190℃ for 10 minutes.
Peel the shallots and slice them in half lengthwise. Dehusk the garlic but leave the cloves whole.
Add a little olive oil to a bowl, add salt and black pepper, and stir.
Add the halved shallots and whole garlic, and the thyme leaves and rosemary if using, and toss well to coat.
Cook at 190℃ for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Serve alongside meat or fish, or use as a pizza topping with goat’s cheese or feta.
If you don’t own an air fryer, you can fry them in a pan gently until tender, tossing now and then. Or roast them in the oven at the same temperature for about 25 minutes, tossing them around halfway through. Either way, use a little more oil than you would in an air fryer. DM/TGIFood
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed in wares by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.