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Lampascione: taste and benefits of an excellence from southern Italy

Squisite, adorable, extraordinary, advantages, delicious, excellent, particular, refined, elegant, versatile. This is how the writer, gourmet describes them Massimo Vaglio in his Piccolo codex of the lampascione published by Cibusalento. They are part of the rural tradition of the regions southernersin particular Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria, where these bulbs were an integral part of the diet of poor peasants. Today, they are returning to the forefront of the gastronomic scene with the rediscovery of traditional recipes.

In the onion family, the Mediterranean as a cradle

Very often those found on the stalls of fruit merchants are imported (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) and not local, precisely because the culture or spontaneous collection it is not very profitable. They belong to the family of Liliaceae, such as onions or garlic. Their scientific name is Leopoldia comosa or Muscari comosum. In Salento they are also known as pampascione, dog onions, blue onions, spring onions with arch or plume hyacinths and are included in the list of Traditional Food Products of the region. They grow spontaneously throughout the Mediterranean basin, it is estimated that there are worldwide 50 varieties of which only seven in Italy, some of them are grown only for ornamental purposes.

The Lampascioni

They look like a small onion, it is actually the bulb of an acorn hyacinth, a common wildflower in southern Italy. Their shape is rather oval and pink in color, they have a fairly fleshy consistency with a rather bitter taste. They were known by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In the first century of our era, the Greek physician, botanist and pharmacist Dioscorides attributed properties to these bulbs aphrodisiacs and stimulants. In the 2nd century AD, however, Doctor Galen of Pergamon recommended them because of their purifying, diuretic and laxative properties.

The good life

Collection and ownership

The favorable period for harvesting, rigorously carried out by hand, is the end of winter, before flowering, when the first leaves appear and the plant can then be identified. The lampascioni have a low calorie, provide about 40 kcal per 100 grams, most of which is in the form of carbohydrates, followed by fat and protein. From a nutritional point of view, they are a mine of benefits for the whole organism. Indeed, they have a high nutritional value and a considerable concentration of vitamins And salts minerals.

They are easily cleaned by peeling them like new onions. With a knife you remove the base with the roots and the drier outer layers. Then they wash themselves with plenty of water to remove the Earth. To reduce their characteristic bitter taste, after having peeled them and carved them crosswise at the base, it is best to soak them in cold water overnight. Then rinse them and let them drain. Then they let them relax slightly and at this point they are ready to be used in kitchen for any preparation.

How to enjoy them

They are eaten in different ways: boiled and seasoned with oil and saltjumped up, fried, grilled or under the ashes. They are used as an ingredient for omelettes, Meatballs, soups, roast meats or fish dishes. Cleaned and preserved in oil, they are suitable to accompany cheeses and charcuterie. Transformed into skull lampascioni are perfect for flavoring bruschetta or croutons. They are often prepared in sweet and sour, with the addition of vinegar or mint.

The first Friday of March in Galugnano, a hamlet of San Donato, and Acaya, a walled town in Salento that belongs to the territory of Vernole, both in the province of Lecce Madonna of the Addolorata, invoked as “Virgin of the lampascioni”. Since 2000 there is the Brotherhood of Pampascione Salentino based in Alezio in the Lecce area.

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