Roasted Mystery Vegetable

These are the prettiest globes of life you can imagine, ranging from clear red to a warm orange to a yellow-striped green to solid green. But what are they? I have no idea.

They came from the wonderful St Paul Farmers Market where my new pals Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Laura from My Sister's Kitchen and I bought so many Minnesota-grown fresh vegetables and apples, I lost track!

Peppers, maybe ... but they're not hollow. Summer squash, hmm ... but the skins are thick and tough. So now my best guess is a glorious eggplant, especially because a white eggplant I cooked a few weeks ago also had a tough skin.

Wild guesses, educated guesses and vegetable identification expertise are welcome. What ARE these things?

The farmer suggested stir-frying them but once discovering the tough skins, I decided to roast them instead. They were good, definitely a roasted eggplant texture. The skins remained a tad tough but they kept their color so I'd hesitate to peel.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes up-front + occasional stirring
Time to table: 1 1/4 hours
Serves 4

1 pound mystery vegetables, trimmed and diced (or eggplant)
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste

Set oven to 400F. Toss all ingredients except vinegar until vegetables are coated with fat. (With such a small amount of fat, I find it important to do the tossing in a bowl instead right on the baking sheet.) Roast for about 60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes and tossing in balsamic vinegar after 30 or 45 minutes.

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Looks like a gourd of some sort?

  2. wild guess category: small bitter melons? xoxo

  3. WOW! Interesting the color, tho. I wonder what they were. Great post, still!!!

  4. Une belle recette

  5. Alanna,

    I think they are jilo or Brazilian eggplants. They start of green and then turn orange then red. They are lovely - what a find!

  6. My guess is also eggplant Alanna. They look gorgeous and the recipe sound devine!

  7. These are beautiful, and sound delicious. Hope you get a definitive I.D. I'm voting eggplant-I think a melon texture would be noticeably different.

  8. Hi Alanna:
    I'll make those lettuce wraps for you ANYTIME after I heard such wonderful things about you from Kalyn. My ears did burn slightly, but I figured it was my from all my time in the sun and the ocean.
    I actually wouldn't mind a little "roasted mystery vegetable" myself.

  9. I'm guessing eggplant, too. I've seen these in a market in Providence's Latino community. At first I thought they were persimmons, but I know they're a vegetable, not a fruit. Please let us know when you find out for sure.

  10. I love google images.

    What fun! I am an eggplant fiend -- what do these taste like?

  11. Ta Da!! Catherine, you've got it, yes, for sure!

    And many thanks to Christine for the photo confirmation that the mystery vegetable is, indeed, a jilo!

    Many thanks, all, for all the guesses, good guesses, wild guesses and spot-on information!

    The mystery, veggie lovers, is solved.

  12. I'm a 100% sure that is Jilo.
    I'ts a brazilian vegetable. It must be eaten while green. When it turns yellow or red is not good for eating.It's flavor is kind of bitter.Not so many brazilians appreciate the flavor of jilo.I love it1 My mom knows how to prepare jilo with no bitterness flavor.

  13. Can you tell me the difference between a scallion and a shallot?

  14. Okay! A scallion is what you might call a green onion. A shallot is a red-skinned onion, about half the size of a head of garlic and with 'cloves' like a garlic. I love to use shallots when a delicate onion flavor is appropriate.

  15. You've probably been informed about this in the last 2 years but just in case not, they are a Brazilian eggplant known there as Jilo. They originated from Africa. I've just grown them for the first time and they were easy and productive. I don't have a source for seeds, I bought seedlings from a local nursery.

    I live on Martha's Vineyard where, over the course of the last 10 years, a thriving Brazilian community has migrated. Their foods now line the grocery shelves and the farm stands. We have a long tradition of Portugese settlers from the Azores and the Portugese-speaking Brazilians seem to be an extension of that tradition. New England's not just for Yankees and we're all the richer for it!

  16. I have a Brazilian Farm where I grow these vegetables for the past 15 years. They are a Brazilian egg plant called Jilo. We grow about 4000 plants per year as well as Quiabo, Couve, abobora, maxixe, tomate, milho (Okra,collard green,squashes,cucumber,tomatoes,and corn, as well as other veggies. Try slicing them like a chip and soak in egg batter and then lightly fried in olive oil with a little salt. Jilo is picked when it is young and green. When it starts turning to yellow, orange then red it becomes full of seed and very bitter. The Brazilian market will only buy them when they are green. Thank You Bill @ Fazenda Brasil

  17. I enjoyed your blog about the mystery vegetable. I have just roasted some of these.
    Bought them at a local produce market that's known for having all sorts of cool things. A huge bag of them were
    $1 on the seconds table. A guy there told me they are Brazilian eggplants and to use them just like regular eggplant.
    The colors in your photo were lovely. These were all greenish yellow.

    If I were to do them again I think I would salt them and let some of the bitter juices drain out. They're a tad bitter.
    Or maybe they aren't fully ripe?

    Fun to experiment.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna