Compound Interest

In my book, butter is always good. But some butter is better than others. And Summerbutter—a compound butter made with pureed tomatoes and a dash of salt—is nearly perfect.

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Echoing Marcella Hazan’s iconic tomato sauce (while rivaling the simplicity of cacio e pepe), Summerbutter lives to lend a decadent, velvet wrap to hot noodles (or even zoodles).

But don’t stop there. Add a whisper of sweet tomato to a grilled baguette (or grilled cheese!), slap a pat on just-off-the-grill chicken or baked fish, use it to finish off your next risotto, or stow some in the freezer for when fall’s first spaghetti squash graces your sharebox.

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Now that tomato season’s in full swing, these little guys may get lost in the shuffle. Not on my watch.
Summerbutter

I use cherry or grape tomatoes here—saving the big beefsteaks and heirlooms for sandwiches and salads—but smaller, Roma-style fruits work well, too. Years ago, my first batch was from Sungold tomatoes that I’d dried in a low oven for 2-3 hours, a step that really turned the TOMATO up to eleven. Honestly, though, I love this in part because you don’t have to turn your oven on at all, so in the summer, I go the fresh route. 

  • 1 scant pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1-1/2 sticks)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste
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Here, Summerbutter is gilding the lily that is Lost Bread Company’s Table Bread (wheat, rye, spelt, and malted barley).

Rinse the tomatoes and drain them well. Split each in half and use your thumb to scrape out the gel and seeds. You should end up with a heaping cup of tomato flesh. Don’t sweat the skins—they’re so delicate that, when your food processor’s done with them, you’ll never know they’re there.

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This is yet another project for which it’s probably best not to wear a white shirt.

Blitz the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the butter and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Pulse for 10 seconds, scrape down the sides, then let the machine run for a full minute.

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I know. It looks wrong. But as we say in Philly, Trust the Process. Scrape down the sides, and give it another 90 seconds or so. It’ll come together.

Scrape the sides again, and blitz the mixture for another minute or two, until it’s fully incorporated and looks like, well, orangey-pink butter.

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See? There you go.

Taste, and adjust the salt if necessary.

Refrigerate and use within five days, or freeze and use within 6 months.

If you have small, freezer-safe containers, you could use those. I can never find ours, so I roll the compound butter into a log using a sheet of parchment paper, twist the ends, and pop that into the freezer overnight.

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The next day, I’ll slice up the log into portions, wrap those discs in their own square of parchment, and pop them all into a freezer bag so that I can take out a pat or two whenever I need some summer love.

 

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