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
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
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

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice