• Asher Cusack

The Magic Shallot Paste

A super savoury flavour-punch that's somewhere between a sauce and a spice paste. Perfect on pasta, toast, tossed with veggies for roasting, mixed into soups and sauces, or to start a dish that required cooked onions.


This recipe started life with the fantastic Alison Roman, one of my absolute favourite food writers / presenters. She developed a super savoury anchovy pasta with caramelised shallots and tomato paste. I took this recipe and riffed on it over the space of a few months, and it's now at a place where we both love it so much that I make a batch pretty much every week. My favourite way to serve it is with pasta. I just stir the paste into the cooked pasta in a hot pan, with a little splash of the salted water I cooked the pasta in (maybe a tablespoon per portion). The result is a sticky pasta dish rather than a super saucy one, but the sweet and savoury punch of this paste really works best that way. I've also used the paste as a way to skip the sofrito step for starting sauces, or to add a bit of oomph in the same way you might use a dash of Worchester sauce. You can even spread it on toast as is, or mix into whipped ricotta for a really indulgent crostini topper.


Caramelised Shallot Paste vegan. gluten free.

total time 20 minutes

servings around 1 cup, enough for 6 100g (dry weight) servings of pasta (if you're serving less, still make the full recipe as it keeps weeks in the fridge)


  • ¼ cup flavourless oil (I used vegetable oil)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 5 medium or 8 small shallots, thinly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilli (I used gochugaru, but adjust to your tastes and your chosen chilli flake)

  • 1 small can (about ⅓ to ½ cup) tomato paste / puree

  • ⅓ cup of brine from a jar of black olives (please don't leave this out - it's a huge flavour boost but really doesn't taste olive-y)

  • Salt, to taste


  1. Heat the vegetable and olive oil in a pan over medium to medium high heat.

  2. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and a good pinch of salt.

  3. Cook until lightly browned.

  4. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the shallots are very brown but be careful not to burn.

  5. Stir in the chilli and fry for just 20 seconds.

  6. Add the tomato paste and fry for a minute or so, until it starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to burn.

  7. Add the olive brine, then cook until it has reduced back to a very thick paste.

  8. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (maybe more!).

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