Shallots Key facts The shallot is related to the onion, but with a milder, sweeter flavour. They keep for up to six months, so are a good thing to have in the kitchen. Banana shallots are longer and more tubular than the common round shallot, the latter used to make pickled onions.

These are like little baby onions, sometimes bright purple-pink and sometimes creamy white.

Cooked slowly as a confit they make a lovely accompaniment to beef. In a medium pan, simmer 12 oz (350 g) of peeled whole shallots with 7 fl oz (200 ml) of red wine, 1 fl oz (25 ml) of red wine vinegar and seasoning. Keep the heat very low and cook, without a lid, for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the shallots over halfway through. After this time, add half a teaspoon of sugar to give a lovely sticky glaze, and cook for another 5 minutes. Serves 4.

They are lovely pickled, or simmered whole in casseroles and braised dishes, and I love them chopped very finely in salads, such as Salade Niçoise.

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