Gill Meller’s tomatoes in the hole – recipe

This is such a good way to turn tomatoes into an utterly delicious main-course sort of affair, and it’s fun to make too. The idea is, of course, toad-like, but I think it offers a little more than bangers in batter. The tomatoes are so sweet and juicy they almost make a gravy of their own accord. I add wedges of red onion and lots of garlic, rosemary and thyme, which all work wonderfully. A little finely grated aged cheese is a nice touch – you could even use a blue cheese if you liked.

Serves 2
ripe, mixed tomatoes 500g, halved if large
red onion 1, cut into chunky wedges
rosemary sprigs 2
garlic 2 cloves, thickly sliced
thyme sprigs 4, leaves stripped
extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
sunflower oil 2 tbsp
hard sheep’s or goat’s cheese a scattering, grated

For the batter
plain flour 140g
eggs 4, lightly beaten
whole milk 200ml
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6.

First, make the batter. Tip the flour into a bowl and whisk in the eggs until everything is nice and smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking continuously until you are certain there are no lumps. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the tomatoes in a large roasting tin, cut sides upwards for those you’ve halved. Place the onion wedges around the tomatoes. Tear over the rosemary, dot over the sliced garlic and sprinkle over the thyme leaves.

Trickle everything with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the onions are tender and the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.

Meanwhile, increase the oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7. Pour the sunflower oil into a second roasting tin (about 30cm x 20cm) and place it in the oven to heat up for 5 minutes. When the oil is super-hot, carefully remove from the oven and quickly use a spatula to arrange the roasted tomatoes and onions over the base of the tin – things may spit a little so be careful. Pour the batter around the veg and place the tin straight back in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until the batter is puffed up and golden. Scatter the grated cheese over the top, close the oven door and cook for a further 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve straight away with a dressed green salad.