Matthew Fort's autumnal recipes

"Tomatoes are, I think, at their peak in September," Matthew says. "A lovely way to use them is a caponata, a classic Sicilian vegetable stew with aubergines, celery and courgettes. There are lots of ways to make it, of course."

With this sort of recipe there is always endless chopping - in fact, the first thing to do if you're planning to eat a lot of vegetables is find yourself a really good knife. The whole job takes on a pleasant, soothing quality - it can even be quite cathartic.

A caponata requires you to chop up two aubergines, a red onion, two cloves of garlic, a small bunch of parsley separated into leaves and stalks, two tablespoons of capers (from salted water, don't forget to rinse them), and tomatoes (nice if you can be bothered to peel and de-seed fresh ones, otherwise a can will do) all into rough, peasanty chunks.

Glug a decent amount of olive oil into a good heavy-bottomed pan and throw the aubergines in with a big teaspoon of dried oregano; move them around over a high heat until they start to turn golden. Now add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks for a few more minutes, then add the capers and olives and pour a couple of tablespoons of best herb vinegar over the whole thing.

When the vinegar has evaporated, put in the tomatoes and stir for a while: give it about 15 minutes until everything is beautifully tender. It tastes best with crusty brown bread and a green salad.

"Wild mushrooms, especially chanterelles, are wonderful at this time of year. You can use them in a risotto, you can pickle them, or you can just fry them up and serve them with an omelette."

A mushroom risotto is a gorgeous thing: slice up the wild mushrooms and an onion (a red onion if you've got one) and stick them into a pan with a great big lump of butter and a dribble of olive oil.

In the meantime you'll need a pan of chicken or vegetable stock, warming on another ring, about a litre's worth. When the onion has softened and is flopping around your wooden spoon, pour in between 250g and 300g of carnaroli or arborio rice, stir till every grain is coated in butter, and then tip in a good glass of white wine and stir again. When the wine has mostly evaporated and you're left with mere creaminess, pour in a couple of soup ladle's worth of stock.

Find a comfortable position leaning against the stove and at this point you should enter a pleasurable risotto trance, alternately stirring and pouring, stirring and pouring. When the rice is perfectly cooked, take a tip from Marcella Hazan: turn the stove off, drop in a handful of grated parmesan and another knob of butter and stir it all through, to achieve a beautiful risotto sheen. Unbeatable.

"I love marrows: they're very unfashionable vegetables these days, but wonderful stuffed with a good tomato sauce."

Here we've borrowed a recipe from Paola Gavin's foolproof Italian Vegetarian Cookery: zucchini ripieni alla fiorentina, but we did it with marrows instead of courgettes and it was just as lovely. Some suggest you need to salt marrows like aubergines, but we didn't and it didn't seem to be a problem.

Preheat your oven, 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cut the marrow into quarters - first along the length and then across it - and then put them into boiling water for about 10 minutes, and leave to cool. Once they're a bit cooler you can scoop out the seeds in the middle. Scoop out some of the flesh too, and put this aside: you've now got nice deep trenches for your filling.

Cook 400g of fresh spinach (chopped in strips if the leaves are very big) and drain, then heat olive oil in a frying pan and throw in two tablespoons of chopped parsley and a finely chopped garlic clove: now add the marrow flesh and cook for another five minutes or so. Put in the spinach, a big tablespoonful of parmesan, a big pinch of nutmeg, some salt and pepper, and gently sift it all together. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place in a greased baking dish.

Now make a quick bechamel sauce - you know the routine, lump of butter, flour sifted onto it and stirred and then warm milk added slowly until it all thickens. Take that off the heat, stir in a huge handful of parmesan, pour the whole lot over the marrows, and sprinkle with a last dusting of parmesan. Put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

"This is also when you get late carrots, not the little early season ones but great big ones. There's a traditional French recipe called carottes rapées - grated carrot."

For the carottes rapées Elizabeth David suggests grating the carrots very finely, discarding the yellow core: "the resulting preparation, almost a puree, is mixed with a very small amount of chopped shallot, a little oil, lemon juice, salt, and a pinch of sugar if necessary".

This would make a good light lunch with a leafy green salad, a crunchy loaf of bread and a wedge of mild cheese.

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