The PGI Scalogno di Romagna shallot has an unusual, oblong flask shape, leathery skin and a reddy-brown hue that sets it apart from the other varieties grown around Italy and abroad.
Part garlic, part onion, this shallot grows without the use of chemical treatments or fertilisers in an area that lies halfway between Romagna and Emilia, on lands surrounding the municipality of Riolo Terme (Ravenna).
Belonging to the large Liliaceae family, which includes garlic, onion, leek, tassel hyacinth and chives, shallots boast a thousand-year-old history that takes us all the way back to Roman times.
As they have no seeds, the small bulbs need to be planted for the shallots to reproduce. These bulbs are saved from the previous year’s harvest.
They cannot be sown in succession, either with themselves or with other Liliaceae or Solanaceae varieties, let alone be grown on the same piece of land, known as continuous cropping: at least five years must have passed before shallots can be planted again on the same plot of land.
Shallots are sown in November to December, whilst the harvest begins in mid-June for shallots in their fresh form, and carries on until mid-July for dried shallots.
A much-loved ingredient, shallots have a wide range of uses in cooking. Their decisive yet slightly sweet flavour makes them the perfect ingredient for dressings, sauces, or condiments for pasta, vegetables or roast meat.
After removing the outer film on the fresh bulb, shallots can be cut into thin slices and combined with cubes of ham and tomato to make a rich meat ragù sauce for tagliatelle pasta. Freshly picked shallot leaves can be used to add flavour to mixed salads.