Welcome October! Capture the Beautiful Flavors & Colors of Harvest Season with Autumn Vegetable Stew…

The Colors of the Season – Autumn Harvest Stew

I am a true New Englander. And while I do treasure all of the year’s beautiful seasons, I have to admit that October is my favorite month. I love autumn’s unique combination of fleeting, sensory pleasures; the subtle, changing light, intensely colored foliage, rich textures, savory flavors, warm days and contrasting, chilly nights. My weekdays are filled with end-of-growing-season chores; fall planting and garden designs to finish up, and new, long-term plans and projects to begin. And the busy fall weekends —jam-packed with fairs and friends and parties— are only just beginning. There’s so much to do, and I am loving every minute of it…

Of course, one of my favorite things about fall is the return of the oven. Oh yes -you do remember the oven, don’t you? You know, that heat-creating device you avoided all summer ? Well, on a rainy autumn day like today, the warmth of a fragrant, homey kitchen is exactly what I am seeking. So, I have parked myself here at the kitchen island —laptop and paperwork close by— with a steamy bowl of Autumn-Harvest Stew. Using what I have on hand —an excess of fresh tomatoes, colorful peppers and chubby eggplant— I decided to make one of my favorite fall recipes. And since the weekend is coming up, I figure some of you are bound to have company coming. This is a great party dish to serve a hungry crowd. And what’s really nice about this recipe is that the first step —prepping and pan-frying the vegetables— can be done well in advance. Just mix everything together in a table-pretty French Oven (or any heavy casserole dish), and pop it into the oven a half an hour before you are ready to serve. Voila… Autumn perfection when served with a loaf of crusty, French bread —or with a main course of fish or meat— and a big, bold red wine.

Fresh from the Garden Bold Colored Cubanelle (Cubano) Peppers, Bell Peppers and Tomatoes…

And Deep Violet-Skinned Eggplant…

Autumn Harvest Stew

Ingredients (makes one 2.75 quart French Oven, serves 4-6)

1  large eggplant sliced cross-ways 1/4″ thick

1  pound new potatoes sliced cross 1/8″ thick

1  red bell pepper

1  yellow or orange bell pepper

3  cubanelle (aka cubano) peppers

1  pound fresh tomatoes (peeled and cored)

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

Kosher salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Olive oil for frying**

* You may use your own, or purchased canned tomatoes later in the season. Use the same amount.

** It’s important to use olive oil intended for frying: it allows you to cook at higher temps without smoke or burning


Preheat an oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Wash the eggplant and remove ends. Slice crosswise into 1/4″ rounds. Set eggplant slices on paper towels to drain any excess water. Wash new potatoes (peeling is optional, on new potatoes, I leave the skin on) and slice into 1/8″ thick rounds. Wash, core and seed the peppers. Slice lengthwise into 1/8″ strips. Set vegetables aside. Peel and core tomatoes (I peel my tomatoes by scorching them briefly over the blue flame on my burner. Some prefer to scald them quickly in hot water. Either method works.) Place the tomatoes in a bowl and mash gently with your hands. Set aside.

Pour 1/8″ of frying olive oil into a very large pan. Turn on the burner to high. Once the oil is very, very hot, add the eggplant and brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bed of paper towels. Next, brown the potatoes (add more oil if necessary) on both sides and drain on paper towels. Add the peppers to the pan and cook until just tender, and remove to towels to drain oil for a moment (patting gently). Add the vegetables to the casserole dish/ French/Dutch oven and stir. Add the crushed Pour the tomatoes and crushed garlic on top of the fried vegetables and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp of each is good) and stir once again.

Cover the casserole dish with a lid and place in oven. Cook at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh baked bread.

Autumn Harvest Stew

Viburnum trilobum (Cranberrybush viburnum leaf)

Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Goldenrod (Solidago), Rudbeckia hirta seed pods, and red Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Backlit Maple Leaf


Article and photographs â“’ 2010 Michaela at TGE

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4 Replies to “Welcome October! Capture the Beautiful Flavors & Colors of Harvest Season with Autumn Vegetable Stew…”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Ah Autumn, she and I have a classic love/hate relationship… Loving the gorgeous foliage: brilliant leaves that seem to glow from within, the ultimate contrast against rain-blackened bark, delighting the eye and raising the spirits. I soak it all up, revelling; knowing that all too soon they will fall to the ground; blanket the earth, prepare to nourish next year’s growth.

  2. Victoria

    Hi, Michaela,

    October is my favorite month too. But this year in upstate New York, peak hit the hill in back of my kitchen the last weekend in September. The much needed rains on Thursday and Friday took any even barely dried leaves on the trees down with its drops and across the yard with its winds.

    But I’m not complaining.

    One pond was up, the other, dry as a bone six days before, was filled, and the strewn leaves were not only dry dusty brown crumbling underfoot , but also red and gold and beautiful. To walk through them releasing their fragrance is the wonderful scent of fall to me.

    As is the applesauce on the stove made with green apples from the backyard tree to be served with thick pork chops, salted twelve hours in advance and cooked on the grill that still sits by the back step.

  3. Michaela

    @ Merry – Although the trees are shedding their leaves faster than usual this year… it’s still quite a lovely harvest season. Thank you for saying hello! xo M
    @ Deb – Hello there friend! Yes, it’s a bit hard to accept that summer has flown. But she will be back again, and the smell of homemade applesauce (I am already dreaming of Victoria’s fragrant kitchen) is quite a lovely consolation prize. xo M
    @ Victoria – You have made my mouth water. I must get to work on a pot of applesauce IMMEDIATELY. Let’s hope we get a long Indian Summer for strolling, basking in the sun, and grilling! SO nice to hear from you. xo M

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