In the autumn, every warm day feels like a gift. Here on the hill, we have not yet had frost, and although I am no longer watering the garden, as we have instituted conservation measures because of the lack of September rain, it continues to produce some tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Whatever we aren't growing is easy to get from the farmers' market, but every eggplant also feels like a gift.
This is the perfect time to make ratatouille, while we still can, and on a day when the comfort of a slow-cooked stew will hit the spot. Saturday is forecast to be such a day, chilly and wet. As soon as we get home, I'll turn on the oven and get to chopping.
My recipe - really this one's just a template, too - is inspired by the wonderful writer, adventurer, and practiced palate MFK Fisher. If you haven't yet, read Long Ago in France. You can start it while the ratatouille cooks, instead of doing something fatalistic and useful like the storm windows.
You need a couple good sized eggplants (more if you have a giant oven-safe pot), plenty of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a pepper or two. MFK wrote:
“The first ingredients were and still are eggplant and onions, garlic, green peppers, red peppers, plenty of ripe peeled tomatoes and some good olive oil. Proportions are impossible to fix firmly, since everything changes in size and flavor, but perhaps there should be three parts of eggplant to two of tomatoes and one each of the peppers and the onions and garlic. I really cannot say.