Every August we celebrate jiló, a variety of eggplant that is popular in Brazilian cuisine. Originally from Africa, and still grown and eaten there, jiló traveled to Brazil with enslaved peoples. The plant has many of the same growing requirements as eggplant, but does benefit from being started as a seedling in a greenhouse, three to four weeks earlier than European eggplant varieties. The biggest difference in its growth habit is the height; mature plants have been reported by the UMass World Crops program to be upwards of six feet.
Island Grown Initiative grows jiló on its farm, and our gleaners harvest the fruits when they are small and green. According to our gleaning manager, Astrid Tilton, jiló is a very prolific plant, and can be harvested nearly every day. We donate all of the jiló fruits to the Food Pantry and to school cafeteria chefs for their meals programs. If you’re interested in purchasing jiló to eat, you can visit the Norton Farm farmstand or Vineyard Grocer.
Astrid says that her favorite ways to enjoy jiló are in a scramble, as a side dish with rice, and with pasta. Try this Jiló Scramble recipe by Valerio Destefani, owner of Sweet Bites, and an amazing cook.
By Valerio Destefani
2 cloves of garlic
1 small brown onion
1 tsp. chicken-flavored bouillon
dash of black pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Slice jiló into rounds about ¼ inch in thickness. Finely chop garlic and dice onion.
Place a well-oiled medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toss the onion, garlic, and jiló into the pan, and cook until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften. Add the chicken bouillon, and stir the mixture to combine the flavors.
Whisk eggs in a small bowl, and pour into the pan. Cook on medium-low heat until cooked through.
Interested in signing up to glean jiló and other crops to donate? Register at igimv.org/volunteer.