When making shallot vinaigrette, ingredients should be prepared and paired together based on their complimentary flavors and the foods over which they will be poured. Sweet vinegars blend best with shallots that have been roasted in the oven. Light, tangy vinegars work well when combined with raw, chopped shallots and freshly cut green herbs. Each type of vinaigrette should be selected with equal attention paid to the salad, vegetables, or fruit with which it will be served.
Shallots are a type of small and intensely flavored onion. They may be found in the produce section of most local grocery stores and outdoor markets. They are typically twice the size of pearl onions, but are less than half that of a traditional yellow onion. They must be peeled of their outer paper skin prior to use, and each bulb may contain between one and three interior pods.
Any type of vinegar may be used to complete this unique type of dressing. The choice of vinegar often depends on the taste preferences of the chef, and the type of food over which the shallot vinaigrette will be served. Sweet salads containing some fruits, nuts, and sweet cheeses often pair best with equally sweet vinegars, such as balsamic, apple cider, and raspberry vinegars. Savory salads containing vegetables like squash, carrots, and zucchini tend to taste best when coated with light vinegars, such as rice, white, and white wine vinegars.
To create a sweet shallot vinaigrette, these small onions should be roasted prior to use. The cooking process can begin on a hot stove top by sauteing the shallots in olive oil for several minutes. They should then be placed in a warm oven for up to half an hour to allow the onions to completely release their juices. The shallots should be allowed to cool slightly, and then can be placed with their oil and juices into a blender or food processor. The remaining ingredients for the vinaigrette can be added and pureed together until a thick liquid has been formed.
Recipes or salads requiring a tangy shallot vinaigrette can be assembled using chopped, raw shallots. The raw onions can be chopped by hand or using a food processor, though they should not be pureed. They can then be blended together with a light, clear colored vinegar and a variety of herbs. Finely chopped anchovies and dijon mustard can be added to this type of recipe to create a tangy, salty dressing that stands out when poured over crisp romaine lettuce leaves or fresh baby spinach and arugula.