Monday, 2 May 2011

Insalata di lampascioni ( Edible Muscari bulb salad! This is not a joke!)

How could I fail to notice the huge mountains of lampascioni, when I went shopping with my sister? Lampascioni were very much "part" of life, when our mum was still with us. I remember the ritual, some Winter days, when lampascioni were prepared.

A mound of lampascioni for sale
What is lampascioni? Well... they are bulbs, Muscari (grape hycinth bulbs) and my mother... loved them!

The blue flowers are Muscari... don't eat them, or the bulbs!

I never actually ate even one of the "things" ... to me, they looked like something you should plant in a pot, not eat. But eat... she did! And judging by the amount of lampascioni on offer at the market, people in Puglia love it!

My mother used to make a salad with lampascioni. She would peel, wash, soak them overnight and, next day, the little monsters would be cooked, arranged in a platter and dressed with the classic extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

I dipped bread in the dressing, on a few occasions. The oil tasted slightly bitter and had a slight hint of truffle. It was delicious! The nearest I ever came to eating lampascioni, was a timid attempt: a couple of "leaves" ... or layers... I don't know what to call them. Lampascioni, like onions, consist of tight layers of fleshy "leaves" joint together at the base.

Eating a whole bitter lampascione? No way! Give me raw fish or a snail salad any time, but... lampascioni? No, thanks! By the way! If you have Grape Hycinths in your garden (which I really love) please don't go cooking them, as it's quite likely that lampascioni is just an edible variety of the stuff.

I prefer growing the plants and looking at the extremely beautiful flowers!

Insalata di lampascioni

Serves 4-5 people

500 gr lampascioni
olive oil for the dressing
(as much as you like)
freshly milled black pepper
crusty bread

Peel and wash your lampascioni. Place in a bowl of cold water, kiss goodnight (they need to be left in water overnight as this makes them less bitter) and go to bed.

My sister patiently peeled and cleaned each of the bulbs
Next day: cook the lampascioni in planty of salted water, until really soft. Drain, then arrange in a large dish, squashing each of the bulbs up, by pressing down from the top.

They are quite bitter tasting

Dress with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. You can add some chives for extra colour.

Buona fortuna!

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