Use Up End-Of-Summer Tomatoes This Labor Day In A Compound Butter

Tomatoes may very well be the best part of summer. Tangy, juicy, and savory, they can be used to make everything from refreshing tomato bruschetta to oven-roasted tomato bucatini. But as Labor Day approaches and summer nears its close, how do you handle the surplus of tomatoes in your garden or at your local market? One clever solution is to make compound butter.

Compound butter is less intimidating than it sounds. It is simply butter combined with a second ingredient that imparts a new and interesting flavor to the mix. In the case of tomatoes, creating a compound butter only takes a few steps. First, you will want to cook your tomatoes in order to remove some of their water content and concentrate their flavor. You can do so using your preferred method; the important part is to achieve tomatoes that are soft and jammy in consistency. Next, combine the tomatoes with softened butter until smooth and fully integrated. You can use a blender for this step or do it by hand — the only difference will be how smooth you prefer the texture to be. At this point, you may also add herbs and spices to further season the butter, but none are required. Finally, shape your butter into a block or log, wrap it in butcher paper or plastic, and place it in the fridge to set.

How to use compound butter

The result of making tomato compound butter is the best of both worlds. The flavor is both rich and slightly acidic; umami yet mild. The texture is quite similar to regular butter, with the exception of being slightly softer and more spreadable.

While there's nothing wrong with putting your tomato butter to use by slathering it on a humble piece of bread — in fact, this is one of the best ways to enjoy it — it also has many applications when it comes to cooking. Compound butter of any kind can act as a flavor shortcut in many recipes that leverage the ingredients found in the butter, as well as some that simply benefit from the extra dimension. Finish your steak or chicken with a knob of tomato butter to amp up their savory qualities. Give your pasta a glossy sheen by stirring in a few slices as you take it off the heat, or get creative by spreading the butter on the outside of your grilled cheese for a drip-free tomato soup experience. No matter how you use your tomato compound butter, it is guaranteed to relieve you of those extra tomatoes while elevating many future meals, including any Labor Day celebrations.