Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 26, 2013

Intentional Minimalist: Shallots' subtle sweetness

Local Columnist

---- — Shallots are a member of the allium family and favored for their sweet subtle onion flavor and crisp texture when used raw. When peeled, shallot bulbs separate into cloves similar to garlic.

Michelle Ferrarese of Birch Point Farm in Traverse City is my go-to farmer who grows amazing heirloom varieties of shallots, onions and garlic.

“I love growing alliums, everything in the onion family. Shallots, however, hold a special place in my heart and garden,” Ferrarese said. “They are interchangeable with onions in recipes, yet more interesting in appearance and more nuanced in flavor. I have planted shallots both in the fall as sets and in the spring as transplants. Both methods work well, though I tend to favor transplants, as I seem unable to hold back enough seed shallots to plant each fall as people want to buy them at market.”

When at the farmers market, look for shallots that have a dry papery brown skin and that are free from soft spots or green sprouts growing from the top stem. Store shallots in a dry, cool, well ventilated area and use within two months.

Birch Point Farm is a working annual vegetable farm with laying hens and beehives. You can visit Michelle to learn more about alliums and Birch Point Farm at the Sarah Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Be sure to ask Michelle for her Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette Dressing recipe.

Potato, Purslaneand Shallot Salad

Farm fresh local fingerling potatoes

Farm fresh local purslane

Farm fresh local lemon basil

Farm fresh local shallot

Farm fresh local steamed or hard boiled eggs

Homemade scallion infused olive oil

Local cherry honey mustard

Local wild leek vinegar

Ingredient Note: This recipe features local produce from Birch Point Farm, Murray’s, Spring Hollow Farm and locally produced products from Food for Thought. A wide variety of infused olive oils can be purchased at grocery stores, specialty food stores or if you are an adventurous home cook you can make your own. Regular olive oil may be substituted for the infused olive oil used in this recipe.

Bring a large metal sauce pan with six cups of water to a boil with one teaspoon sea salt. Wash and slice three cups fingerling potatoes. Add fingerling potatoes to boiling water, reduce heat to medium high and cook for ten minutes. Remove pan from burner and allow to cool for five minutes. Run cooked fingerling potatoes under cool water, then strain water from the pan and set aside.

In a small glass jar, mix together three tablespoons scallion infused olive oil, two tablespoons cherry honey mustard, one tablespoon wild leek vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove one cup of purslane leaves from stems, rinse under cool water, pat dry and add to a large glass mixing bowl. Remove two tablespoons lemon basil leaves from stems, chiffonade leaves and add to the mixing bowl. Remove shallot skins, trim ends off of shallots, thinly slice 1/2 cup shallots, separate shallot slices into rings and add to the mixing bowl. Stir in cooled fingerling potatoes to the mixing bowl. Remove egg shells from three steamed eggs, slice steamed eggs in half and remove yolks. Slice the egg whites and add the egg whites to the mixing bowl. Gently stir in dressing before serving salad.

Kristin Celeste Shroeger of Traverse City is the food writer, recipe creator, photographer and dishwasher of The Intentional Minimalist, a website encouraging farm-to-table cooking with local, seasonal and sustainable produce. Visit