Polpette di tonno with baked tomatoes

Ingredients to serve 6

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3 slices white bread for breadcrumbs or 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
100ml milk
600g sustainably-sourced line-caught tuna, skinned
50g Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
A handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 70g)
2 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
Plain flour, for dusting
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the tomatoes

12 ripe tomatoes
6 garlic cloves
6 fresh bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

You need ripe tomatoes for this recipe, otherwise it's not worth making. I love bay as a herb. It's useful to keep fresh leaves in the fridge or freezer.

Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl, pour over the milk and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Arrange the whole tomatoes in a baking dish in a single layer. Place the whole (unpeeled) garlic cloves and bay leaves in the gaps between the tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until really soft.

Squeeze out the excess milk from the breadcrumbs and place in a large bowl. Finely chop the fish and add to the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Finely grate the Pecorino or Parmesan and finely chop the parsley. Add to the bowl with the currants, pine nuts, lemon zest and beaten egg. Season with salt and black pepper and combine thoroughly. With wet hands, shape the mixture into 18 little balls and dust lightly in flour.

To cook the polpette, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the polpette – you will probably need to cook them in batches – and fry, turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Cover with foil to keep warm while you cook the rest.

To serve, place 3 polpette on each plate and accompany with 2 baked tomatoes on the side. Drizzle with the herby cooking juices and add a bay leaf and softened garlic clove to each plate, so your guests can squeeze out the flesh to eat with their tomatoes.

Taken from 'Dinner At Mine' by Annie Nichols (Kyle Books, £25). Photograph by Annie Nichols

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