The lampascione is an edible bulb, well known in the regions of southern Italy and very rich in beneficial properties for our body.
Perhaps not all of us know the lampascione, a bulb belonging to the Liliaceae family, the same to which garlic and onion belong. In fact, lampascione shares its shape with garlic and onion, since it resembles a spring onion, but with a slightly purple color and a completely different flavor.
The lampascione plant was born as a spontaneous plant , which prefers uncultivated land and warm climates, it is no coincidence that it is very easy to find lampascioni in Puglia and Basilicata, where they are now a typical specialty . In Italy, however, lampascioni are also imported from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
They are also known as “lampagioni” or “cipollacci”. In spring the lampascioni plants are filled with beautiful purple flowers and usually the bulbs, that is the edible part of the plant, are harvested in summer. Harvesting takes place 4 or 5 years after sowing and is done by hand so as not to risk damaging the bulb, which is stuck in the ground.
Lampascioni: calories and nutritional properties
Lampascioni have a low calorie content, in fact they provide about 40 kcal per 100 grams, most of which (about 60%) in the form of carbohydrates, followed by fats (about 20%) and proteins (about 10%).
These vegetables are also particularly rich in fiber (about 7 g in 100 g of product), especially in the form of mucilage, substances capable of retaining water.
Lampascioni are also rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, sulfur compounds and antioxidant compounds, which give them numerous beneficial properties. Eating lampascioni, therefore, is certainly good for you!
Lampascioni: the health benefits
From the nutritional composition just mentioned, all the beneficial properties of lampascioni derive.
The properties of lampascioni are expressed towards the digestive system, thanks to their laxative and emollient power, on the cardiovascular system, as they help to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels, on the body in general with their anti-inflammatory power.
Lampascioni are also low in calories, so they can also be eaten by those on a diet . Let’s see the benefits of lampascioni in detail.
✓ Lower cholesterol
Lampascioni are able to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood since they contain sulfur compounds that have known beneficial properties for the cardiovascular system.
✓ Lower blood pressure
The same sulfur compounds just mentioned are able to modulate blood pressure preventing hypertension, since they regulate vasoconstriction.
✓ They are laxatives
Lampascioni have a high content of fibers which have a laxative effect and are therefore beneficial for the intestine. In particular, they contain mucilage, which absorb excess water in the intestine, regulating its functions.
✓ Rich in mineral salts
Lampascioni have a fairly high mineral content and particularly represented are potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium and manganese. They therefore contribute to the proper hydration of our body and to the remineralization of the bones.
Lampascioni have diuretic effects, that is, they favor the elimination of excess liquids, preventing the retention and stagnation of liquids and waste.
With a particularly low calorie content, they adapt well to low- calorie diets. Furthermore, thanks to their hypoglycemic effect, they are able to prevent obesity.
Thanks to the numerous phenolic compounds they contain, lampascioni have a high antioxidant activity, which can be useful in the prevention and treatment of many pathological conditions as they are able to block the formation of free radicals, molecules that are dangerous for our cells.
Lampascioni are able to reduce blood sugar levels thanks to the presence of compounds that exert inhibitory effects on some enzymes involved in glucose metabolism.
The sulfur compounds and the numerous phenolic compounds exert an antimicrobial action, so much so that in popular medicine the lampascioni are known for their ability to fight infections. Antifungal properties are proven.
Some studies carried out on cultured breast cancer cells show potential anticancer effects of lampascioni extract, which appears to be able to inhibit cell proliferation, a mechanism underlying tumor progression.
Lampascioni: how they are used in the kitchen
As already mentioned, lampascioni have an appearance similar to that of onions, but a completely different flavor, rather bitter.
They can be prepared in various ways but it is essential that they are thoroughly cleaned, as they grow in the soil. Just remove the base with the roots with a knife and then peel them to remove the hardest and most dry outer layers. Then you have to wash them thoroughly under running water to remove the earth residues.
Their bitter taste may not be pleasant for everyone, but there is a trick we can follow to remove the bitterness from lampascioni: after peeling them, they are left to soak in cold water for one night. If you want to keep them, you can leave the raw lampascioni for a few days in the refrigerator immersed in water, to be changed every day. In this way the bitterness will be attenuated even more.
To cook the lampascioni, proceed by boiling them, immersing them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
It is also possible to freeze the boiled lampascioni in order to keep them longer and, once thawed, they can be used in various ways, since the boiled lampascioni are then the basis for other preparations.
Once boiled, in fact, they can be simply seasoned with oil and salt, even with vinegar or lemon and with the addition of fresh mint leaves, or they can be fried and further flavored with spices and aromatic herbs to taste. In this way they are an excellent side dish for meat or fish dishes. They can also be fried in batter or can be used to prepare omelettes.
In Puglia they are used to preserve them in oil and in this way they become an excellent appetizer or a tasty side dish to accompany cheeses or salami, even on homemade bread bruschetta. It is therefore possible to cook lampascioni in many different ways.
In the regions of southern Italy it is possible to find lampascioni in local markets or buy them from small local producers, even in the version preserved in oil, while elsewhere they can be found in fruit and vegetable shops, or online.
Contraindications of lampascioni
If taken in large quantities, lampascioni can cause the formation of intestinal gas with consequent meteorism and cramps followed by diarrhea, always if taken in high quantities, due to their laxative effect.
If you are not expert in recognizing lampascioni, it is not advisable to venture out in search of wild ones because they could be confused with the bulbs of a poisonous plant, the autumnal Colchitum.