In the past, whenever late summer rolled around, I’d transform into a devout raw tomato eater. To me, this was the only way to cherish tomatoes in all of their glory—I’d leave them uncooked, doused in olive oil with citrus and herbs or packed into sandwiches with little else.
But 2020 is different in so many ways, including this important lesson: The only thing better than fresh, peak-season tomatoes are fresh, peak-season tomatoes that’ve teamed up with sizzling brown butter. This preparation, which I learned from chef Cortney Burns’s Nourish Me Home: 125 Soul-Sustaining, Elemental Recipes, brings the best out of tomatoes and allows them to sit deliciously between cooked and uncooked. I highly recommend that you make it asap—before the good tomatoes disappear from the market.
Tomato brown butter is the deeply savory—and slightly sweet—result of swirling fresh, raw tomato purée into fragrant brown butter. While I knew that both tomatoes and butter are delicious on their own, I was surprised by the level of depth and flavor that could come from combining the two ingredients. It’s toasty and warm, but also bright and fresh.
“It’s a nutty fat with an extra layer of sweetness and unctuousness from the tomatoes,” says Burns, who likes her brown butter with a hit of acid. “Often I add vinegar, but then I remembered a time when I first tasted cherry tomatoes warmed until just barely bursting in a copious amount of brown butter, and I was in love—this is an ode to that memory.”
Tomato brown butter makes the perfect finishing touch for Burns’s summer bean tomato soup. But please, don’t stop at soup. Drizzle your tomato brown butter over any roasted vegetables. Tomato brown butter “adds umami and richness to anything it dresses; charred vegetables are just primed to take in fat and flavor,” explains Burns. Try it on grilled fish, grain bowls, or just-cooked pasta, too. (Really, don’t skip the pasta. That’s my favorite.)
To make tomato brown butter, purée a large tomato (any variety, just make sure it’s ripe!) in a blender or food processor, then strain the purée through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the pulp or save for another purpose (like stirred into cracker dough or added to stew). Don’t skip the straining step—you’re not looking to get a chunky sauce, you just want the fresh tomato flavor.
Make the brown butter by cooking a half cup of butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it smells nutty and just begins to turn brown. Gently stir in the smooth tomato purée, watching out for splatters. Finish by simmering the tomato-butter mixture for a minute, seasoning with salt and pepper.
While you could make an approximation using canned tomatoes, I’d rather store summer’s best version in my freezer, to access when the season’s long over. “I like to freeze it in ice cube trays, then place them in a sealed container, so they don’t take on any off-putting aromas,” Burns says. Then you can just pull out a cube or two whenever the mood strikes, all year long.Cortney Burns
Originally Appeared on Epicurious