Forever Green

First published on Whole Foods Cooking on October 17, 2012

I've been obsessed with tomatoes this year -- growing them, eating them, and canning them. I canned 30 pounds of organic tomatoes from my local farmers' market using three different methods: raw packed with added liquid, raw packed with no added liquid, and hot packed. I also canned several pints of spicy salsa with 5 pounds of tomatoes and jalapeños from my backyard. It's a great feeling to have summer preserved in a jar and to know that I won't be worrying about BPA leaching into our food through the lining of some aluminum cans.

This summer was the first year that I truly tried my hand at growing anything in my backyard. My neighbor helped me plot and plant my herb patch as well as a small vegetable patch. When he saw the number of earthworms in my soil, he was hopeful that the seedlings we were transplanting into a harsh environment might actually flourish. And they did. We ate fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes all summer, but only in small batches. It was only when the weather turned cold that my vines started producing tomatoes like there was no tomorrow. In a way, that was quite true! Frost, combined with a hard freeze over the first weekend of October, signaled the end of summer and, therefore, the end of tomato season.

I plucked a large bounty of green tomatoes and knew exactly what I was going to do with them: make Green Tomatoes Bhaji! Bhaji (bhah-gee) has a two-fold meaning, determined by the context in which it is used. It can mean fresh produce or it can mean a side dish made from vegetables.