Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RECIPE - Spicy Stuffed Gilo (Jiló com Pimenta)

The African-born and Brazil-raised bitter vegetable gilo (jiló in Portuguese) like its close relative the eggplant is an extraordinarily adaptable and versatile food. It can be cooked in almost any way - boiled, baked, steamed, stir-fried, deep-fried, stewed. It just can't be eaten raw. Like eggplant, there is a natural bitterness to jiló. For aficionados of this egg-shaped fruit, the bitterness is part of the attraction. For those who are less keen on it (or even more so for those who detest it) the bitterness is what drives them away.

This recipe highlights the flavor of jiló, but by adding other strong flavors, like bacon, onion, and garlic, and by spicing it up with the heat of the dedo de moça pepper, that flavor is tempered and doesn't dominate on the palate as it does in a less-complex presentation of jiló. I discovered the recipe online on the website of the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Dia, in the blog-column of food critic Pedro Landim. The translation and adaptation are mine, and the photos accompanied the original blog posting.
RECIPE - Spicy Stuffed Gilo (Jiló com Pimenta) 

5 gilos (jiló)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. small cubes of bacon
4 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 small chili pepper (dedo de moça, serrano, jalapeno), seeded and minced
home made or well-made commercial tomato sauce
grated parmesan cheese
olive oil
Preheat oven to 425F (220C).

Wash the gilos, then cut off the top (stem) end and the bottom of each, creating a cylinder shape. Using a sharp paring knife, cut around the central pulp of the gilo, and extract the pulp, leaving round cylinders. Reserve. Finely chop the pulp that was removed and reserve.

In a small frying pan, cook the bacon cubes until crispy, then drain on paper towels. Drain any bacon fat remaining in the pan, but do not wash it. In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic until soft and transparent but not browned in a bit of olive oil. Add the gilo, the bacon and pepper and continue to cook until the gilo is soft and tender.

Stuff the gilo cylinders with the mixture from the frying pan. Place them open end up in a small baking dish. Top each with a small amount of tomato sauce, then sprinkle parmesan cheese over.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Serve immediately as a vegetable or side dish.


  1. I'm making this as I type. The kitchen smells wonderful! FYI - I hollowed out the gilo by using my apple corer, which worked great! Great blog, thanks!

  2. I'd love to hear how it turned out... Very clever of you to use your apple corer to hollow out the gilos.

    By the way, can I ask you if you grew your own, or were you able to find them to buy? I'm curious.