Shallots are the genteel member of the onion family. Their flavor is sweet and subtle and they melt into whatever you're cooking. Shallots are treated like epicurean divas, but they are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Even if you've failed with garlic and onions, you'll probably have success with shallots.
French Gray shallots are the gourmet's choice, but there are several varieties available and they should be showing up at garden centers any time now. The largest variety will be available by mail order, but you can even buy some organic bulbs from the grocery store and try planting them. (Non-organic bulbs are often treated with a growth inhibitor, to keep them from sprouting and spoiling.) Fall is the best time to get them in the ground. When you harvest next summer, save your largest bulbs to replant next fall.
Some recipes to savor shallots subtle flavor:
Photo: © Marie Iannotti