MHz Choice Logo eyebrow 150x150

Recipes from theDreams of Imma Tataranni

Deep Fried Hyacinth Bulbs

Written by Linda SarrisPhotos by Pietro Motisi

Seasons 3 coming Spring 2023!
EDITOR'S NOTE: When we reached out to Chef Linda Sarris about a recipe series based on Matera's own Deputy Prosecutor Imma Tataranni, she immediately said, "Yes! And would you believe I just returned from a trip to Matera in Basilicata?" We think you'll agree, Linda's first-hand knowledge of the food, people and culture of Matera deliciously inform these Imma Tataranni inspired recipes!

Lampascioni Fritti

Deep Fried Hyacinth Bulbs

Pair this recipe with:

Imma recounts a fabulous, food filled dream. Imma Tataranni now streaming on MHz Choice.


In this recipe batch, we’re cooking up four recipes pulled from the dreams of Imma Tatarrani. In season 1, episode 6, she lays down therapy-style on the office couch of her Chief Prosecutor and recounts that “For the past few days, I’ve dreamed of something that torments me. I cook the whole morning to make a delicious meal for my husband and myself.” She goes on to describe a comprehensive list of dishes that they stuffed theirselves with. While Pietro is knocked out in a food coma on the couch, she quietly sneaks off to the refrigerator to devour everything else before being caught red-handed by her neighbor.

One of these dishes that you might not be familiar with is “lampascioni fritti”. Lampascioni are grape hyacinth bulbs, traditionally found only in southern Italian cooking. In the regions of Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria, you’ll find lampascioni in the outdoor markets, alimentari delis, or served fried for an aperitivo snack in a homestyle trattoria.

Lampascioni Fritti

Notes from the Chef:

Since lampascioni are an extremely regional ingredient, unfortunately, they can be very difficult to source. We’ve made some adjustments to make this recipe a bit more internationally-friendly by using a pickled version. These “lampascioni sott’olio” have been preserved and sold in a jar along with oil (usually a mild vegetable/seed oil), garlic and chili pepper that you can more easily order online or possibly find in a specialty Italian grocery store. As a last resort, try substituting the lampascioni with tiny peeled cipollini pearl onions.

If you’ll be using the pickled version, a sprinkle of flakey sea salt will be enough to finish off this antipasto dish. When using fresh pearl onions, maybe add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt after they are done frying. Traditionally the lampascioni fritti you’ll find in Italy will be made with fresh bulbs, not the preserved ones.

1 c. lampascioni
1 bottle of ice cold beer, or substitute with sparkling water
1 c. flour
12 oz. vegetable or seed oil to deep fry
sprinkle of salt

Printer friendly version

Prep the pickled lampascioni by straining them from the oil and blotting dry on a paper towel. Discard any additional garlic or chili peppers that might be in the jar. Start by heating the frying oil in a wide sauce pan over medium-low heat. It should not be so hot that it starts to smoke, we want to deep fry the lampascioni so make sure there is enough oil that they will be able to float in the oil and not sit at the bottom of the pan. This helps to make a healthier and crisp product, because the lampascioni will get a golden crust but not absorb too much additional oil. More oil in the pan actually makes for a less greasy fried product.

While the oil heats up, start with the beer batter. In a mixing bowl, add the flour and begin whisking in the cold beer. Depending on what type of flour you use, the hydration will be vary so just eye-ball it and add enough liquid to make a thick pancake-like batter consistency. Coat the lampascioni in your beer batter mixture then carefully place them into the sauté pan. The secret to deep frying is to shock the cold items in hot oil. After about one minute, gently move them around in the pan to get a crust on all sides. Once they become golden brown, remove with a kitchen spider tool or slotted spoon and let them rest on paper towels or recycled brown market paper. Serve warm and pair with a dry mineral-rich glass of white wine.

Recipes from the Dreams of Imma Tataranni

Looking for the Best TV Series to learn Italian? Click here for our suggestions!

About the Chef
Linda Sarris is a food/wine travel consultant and private chef based in Palermo, Sicily. From her sun-lit kitchen studio above the 1,000 year-old Ballarò food market, Linda works as a freelance writer, social media manager, and culinary communications consultant while still traveling regularly for private chef work with clients in the fashion and music industries. Under her brand, @thecheekychef, she is self-publishing a Sicilian food and wine ‘zine and curates a series of Mediterranean culinary/lifestyle retreats and travel experiences. Her first book will be published in 2022 with Hachette Book Group.