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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 23 June 2021

Thanks shallot - these little members of the onion family are finicky, but worth it

Michael Kelly continues his Grow It Yourself series with a tasty flavouring for salads and sauces.

Michael Kelly

SHALLOTS ARE SMALL, golden-brown members of the onion family. They are a little more ‘finicky’ to cook with than onions, but they have a fine and very distinctive flavour. They are very easy to grow.

Shallots are widely used in Thai and South-East Asian cooking.


Similar to onions, shallots are grown from sets (small shallots). Plant in March, but leave until April if the weather is very poor or the soil is very wet. Make sure the soil is light, free draining and non-acidic – add some compost or manure the previous winter. Add some sand or compost if your soil is heavy when you go to plant. Push the shallot into the soil with the tip just visible above the surface. Allow about 5-7cm between sets.


Water only in dry weather and keep the bed weed-free.


They are ready when three quarters of the leaf on each plant has turned yellow and fallen over. This is the same, incidentally, with garlic. Carefully lift them. You will need to dry them out fully before storing. If the weather is dry leave them on the bed (not touching each other) for about 2 weeks. If the weather outside is rainy, put them in a shed on a chicken wire rack kept about a foot off the ground (so the air can circulate beneath them).

Recommended Varieties

Golden Gourmet.


As with onions, the most serious disease is onion white rot which causes leaves to yellow and wilt and the bulb gets white mould. There is no remedy but to remove and burn. You can not grow onions or shallots in that spot for up to seven years.

GIY Tips

If you dry shallots carefully they should store until the following spring. You can plait them as you would with onions.

Source: Daniel R Blume via Flickr

Recipe of the Week – Warm Potato Salad with Shallot Recipe

I die a little inside when I see big blobs of the ‘classic’ potato salad behind the deli counter. This beautiful potato and shallot salad recipe from Bryn Williams is tangy and refreshing instead so that you can really taste the flavour of your new spuds and lovely shallots.


  • 6 new potatoes
  • salt
  • 30ml/1¼fl oz olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 25ml/1fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • 1 portion summer leaves (eg, rocket, sorrel, dandelion leaf, red chard leaf)


Place the potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes.

Heat 10ml of the olive oil in a pan and fry the shallot for a few minutes until soft and transparent. Add the vinegar. Cook until it has reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining olive oil and the thyme leaves.

To serve chop the potatoes and scatter on a large plate. Dress the salad leaves with a little of the shallot dressing and drizzle the remainder over the potatoes. Place the salad leaves on top of the potatoes.

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY.

Read: It might not turn you into Popeye, but it’s time to get more spinach into you

Read: Fancy some lovely rhubarb? Some tips for growing it at home

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Michael Kelly

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