A vine romance: Mark Hix transforms in-season tomatoes

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Use a variety of juicy heritage tomatoes to create this summer's freshest and most colourful creations

I am so glad that British farmers are reviving the wonderful tradition of tomato growing – and that they are not just offering up a couple of varieties of the common round tomato. Not that there's anything wrong with round tomatoes – my grandfather used to grow fantastic moneymakers in his greenhouses and he would flog the odd pound of them here and there to cover some of his costs and, of course, to get the locals talking about "Bill's tomatoes".

Over the years we have tended to rely on imported tomatoes, and for a while those torpedo-shaped plum tomatoes became a bit of a novelty among chefs and shoppers. Now, fortunately, we are finally starting to see heritage tomatoes in our shops and supermarkets. Tomatoes of so many different shapes, colours and sizes are increasingly grown around the country by farmers with a bit of creative savvy – and they not only brighten up the fruit bowl on our kitchen tables, but they make planning a simple summer dish into a real joy.

Which tomatoes you choose is up to you; if I come across a few unusual varieties, I tend to just buy a selection and use them in different ways during the course of the week – from a simple tomato salad to deep-frying the under-ripe green ones in a crisp batter.

Fried green tomatoes with hot soused mackerel

Serves 4

I was brought up on soused mackerel as a kid and I often put it on our menus now. While I was judging a young chef competition down at the Weymouth Food Festival last year, one of the contenders served up a delicious hot soused mackerel dish which inspired me to create this dish. Unripened green tomatoes have so many possibilities, especially when they are pan-fried, deep-fried or chopped up in a salsa. If you grow your own tomatoes, you are bound to get a good crop of green ones that struggle to ripen in our inconsistent British sunshine – or you can just pick them when they are green.

4 mackerel fillets weighing about 100-120g each or 8 smaller ones, boned
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on the angle
2 large shallots, cut into rings
12 black peppercorns
tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
125ml white wine or cider vinegar
125ml water
2tsp sea salt
4 large green tomatoes, cut into 1cm-thick slices
A couple of tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil
Shredded parsley leaves (optional)

Put the carrots, shallots, peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaf, vinegar, sea salt and water in a non-reactive, wide saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drop in the mackerel fillets and simmer gently for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan. Season the tomatoes and fry them on a high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, then remove from the pan and arrange in a line on warmed plates. Remove the mackerel from the cooking liquid and lay on the tomatoes with some of the carrots and shallots. Scatter with the parsley, if using; serve.

Baked breakfast tomatoes with duck eggs

Serves 4

I had this dish in Portugal a while back as a starter for dinner, but I thought it would make a great breakfast dish. You can use fresh, over-ripe tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes for this.

2tbsp olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 x 400g cans of good-quality chopped tomatoes, or 1kg skinned ripe tomatoes
A couple of sprigs of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 English muffins, halved
4 duck eggs

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and thyme, season and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Lightly toast the muffins on both sides and lay in an oven-proof dish. Pour over the tomatoes, then crack an egg on to each muffin. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are just cooked.

Serve immediately, drizzled with some olive oil.

Tomato salad with lovage and goat's curd

Serves 4

You can use a mixture of tomatoes or a single type for this dish. Lovage is a delicious herb but can be somewhat overpowering, so do use it in moderation.

I've gone back to my childhood days here and I have used good old Sarson's malt vinegar like my grandmother used to dish up with my grandad's home-grown tomatoes.

About 500g ripe mixed tomatoes
A tablespoon or so of Sarson's malt vinegar
A couple of tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few leaves of lovage, washed
2-4tbsp goat's curd or fresh goat's cheese
Cut the tomatoes into a selection of wedges, chunks and slices and arrange on serving plates.

Season, drizzle with the vinegar and oil, tear the lovage leaves and scatter on top, then spoon the goat's curd into the centre or break up the goat's cheese and place on the tomatoes.

Red mullet with tomatoes and basil

Serves 4

Red mullet is one of those fish that needs very little doing to it; this light tomato relish is the perfect partner.

You can use any tomatoes for this; I've used both golden and red varieties here to create a colourful blend. I've added some tiny leaves of bush or Greek basil as they are more robust than normal basil and they will hold up in the dressing for about an hour without discolouring.

4 fillets of red mullet fillets weighing about 120-140g each or 8 smaller ones
2tbsp of vegetable or corn oil

For the tomato relish

4 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
A small handful of Greek or bush basil leaves, roughly chopped
3-4tbsp olive oil
tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the tomatoes with the shallots, basil, olive oil and vinegar; season to taste and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Season the red mullet fillets, heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and cook the fillets, skin-side down first, for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve the fish with the relish spooned over or on the side.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style