onsdag den 2. juni 2010

Wild hyacinth onions

Never thought I would be eating flower bulbs, let alone like them, but the Puglian lampascioni tend to grow on you. They look like shallot onions, but are bulbs of a very common wild hyacinth plant (muscari), that can be collected in the countryside - or bought at the market from more industrious gatherers. As a foreigner, I am the lucky recipient numerous home preserves from friends and neighbours, and one of the most prized gifts is a glass of lampascioni.

The characteristic taste is bitter, salt and sour, but it goes remarkably well with meat and steamed fish or served as antipasti in accompaniment with salumi. Use them instead of onion in a slowly cooked soffrito with carrot and celery or in a red-wine and tomato sauce. Boil and mash them in a puree with white beans or potatos. Or add them to a salad with green beans. The uses of lampascioni are boundless.

There is just one small problem. The wild hyacinth bulb is rarely found outside Puglia. You may come across the preserved kind in a specialist delicatessen, however, and if you stumble over a fresh version make sure to buy plenty. They are easy to prepare if you follow this recipe.

½ kg lampascioni
1½ litre of red vinegar
1 clove of garlic, 3 bayleaf, 10 cloves, 1 cinnamon stic, salt, pepper
Olive oil

Peel and clean the lampascioni and boil them in plenty of water for a few minutes.
Drain the bulbs and cover them in big grained salt for 24 hours.
Rinse off the salt.
Bring 1 litre vinegar to the boil with garlic andhalf the spices.
Add the lampascioni and let them boil gently for 20 minutes.
Drain the lampascioni, place them in sterilized glass jars and cover with fresh vinegar and the remaining spices.
Seal each glass with olive oil.

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