A student in one of my recent classes told me that her favorite vegetable is shallots. I was amused at first – I mean, who puts shallots at the top of their list? And then I started thinking about it. Shallots are pretty amazing. They are sweeter than onions with more complex flavor. They are delicious simply pan-fried, add so much to any soup or stew, they are a mainstay in my salad dressings, and they turn into something downright addictive when allowed to get crispy and set atop something like a rice bowl or even a green bean casserole. That is one pretty awesome vegetable. Broccoli is my favorite and I don’t think it brings nearly as much to the party as the shallot.
I had never roasted shallots and I figured, after realizing how much I love them, that it was time. Time to roast them with thyme. Sorry. I’m a little punchy these days. Ahem. This is what I think of as a well-behaved side dish. It is easy, not time consuming, has few ingredients, and can be made in advance. They come out of the oven soft, smoky, sweet, and with that wonderful sour wine-i-ness that comes from balsamic vinegar put in a hot oven. As they sit, they mellow even more. I tend to think of side dishes as green vegetables, but this dish was such a welcome change. I served these alongside a filo dish with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes and they were perfect.
1 pound shallots
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the ends off the shallots and peel them. If you are struggling with getting the skin off, make a shallow cut along the length of the shallot and then peel. Place them on a small baking sheet and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Pour on the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Use a rubber spatula or your hands to mix well. Lay down the time sprigs and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Allow to cool and serve.