Brown Butter Tomatoes

By • August 23, 2012 • 39 Comments

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Author Notes: It happened at a picnic, while talking about whether or not a salad of tomatoes, peaches, and mozzarella, was a new idea. Peter said it was. I said not. Which is the usual childish direction our conversations go -- "No-ooo!" "Yes!" "Never!" "Wrong!" Peter wisely changed the subject to an even newer tomato concept he'd recently encountered at Lulu & Po: sliced fresh tomatoes, dappled with brown butter, salt, and pepper. He had me (for once!) -- I'd never heard of brown butter tomatoes.

How can you resist something called Brown Butter Tomatoes? I had to try them, which I did at our last photo shoot. You won't believe how easy they are, how close you are to summertime bliss just reading these words. Start walking to your kitchen. Slice a tomato. Beefsteak is best. One-third inch thick slices -- half-inch is too thick, one-quarter is too thin. Get out your ruler if you must. Overlap the slices on the plate you'll devour them from. Brown the butter and grab a spoon. As you spoon the butter over the tomatoes, listen: they sizzle! Shower them with a flaky salt, grind over some pepper. And have at them. As Merrill noted, the tomatoes and butter together are mysteriously, deliciously reminiscent of lobster with melted butter. The richness. The sweet, tender flesh. The exquisite burst of summer.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a light lunch

  • 2 large or 3 small ripe beefsteak tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Baguette or other country bread, for mopping up the butter
  1. Core the tomatoes and slice them 1/3-inch thick. Divide the tomato slices among 4 plates, overlapping the slices just a little.
  2. Place the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium low heat. Let the butter melt completely. It will begin bubbling. Let the butter simmer away, cooking off its water, until it begins to smell nutty and brown. Swirl the pan every 30 seconds or so. When the butter turns the color of a hazelnut, remove it from the heat. Use a soup spoon to ladle it over the tomatoes. They'll sizzle! You want to dress the tomatoes with the butter as if you were pouring ganache over a cake -- be generous!
  3. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then rush the plates to the table so everyone can taste the tomatoes while the butter is hot! Mop up the butter and tomato juices with good bread. Toast to summer!
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3 months ago Susan W

I finally tried this as our local heirloom tomatoes are peaking. Amazeballs!! I totally get the lobster reference.

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4 months ago JadeTree

If anyone you recommend this to thinks it is high church to butter tomatoes, tell them that this is the Sistine Chapel. Absolutely divine with the first summer tomatoes from the farm. This will be a family tradition!

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4 months ago Andrea Elliott

This is so amazing! I am dreaming of making it again tonight.

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4 months ago GinaP

omg. just had this for lunch and it was AMAZINGGG. I used both red and green tomatoes and feta instead of sea salt, and the only thing I can say is I would coat BOTH sides of the green tomatoes with butter (flip them halfway through your butter pour) if you like them a little softer. YUM

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

4 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for this tip!

Stringio

5 months ago Laura

I made this tonight to test it out for tomorrow when I will be making it for 8 as a side at lunch. So. Good. Flaky salt is a must. Thank you!!

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about 1 year ago Rachel

Made these with yellow tomatoes tonight. Luxurious.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I made them tonight, too! Was thinking next time I'd like to try it with halved cherry tomatoes.

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about 1 year ago Demington

Really lovely. Thanks, Amanda.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for trying it out.

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about 1 year ago Morrissex

This recipe brings me memories of my childhood at my grandmother's home. She used to make home-baked bread, which I used to eat along with butter, a slice of tomato and cilantro.

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about 1 year ago blanchette

AMAZING!!!! I dressed the plate with a single layer of fresh red leaf lettuce straight from my little garden, Cherokee tomatoes on top, brown butter (yum!), topped with fresh parsley and basil right out of the garden...heaven on a plate :0)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you liked it so much!

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about 1 year ago Lisa

I like the recipe. I like to add fresh sage leaves to the browned butter until crisp and garnish the tomato slices with them.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great idea -- I'm going to try it.

Anotherfoodieblogger_about_me_image

about 1 year ago anotherfoodieblogger

I can't wait to try this when my beefsteaks ripen this year. Wow!

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about 1 year ago ellent124

Oh boy! had this for dinner tonight--yummy. Love brown butter and on the tomatoes it was wonderful...

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you!

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about 1 year ago Mocha

Son of a mothermuchacho this was good! I would have NEVER thought to combine these two, but maaaan! Loved it!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I've been waiting for the tomatoes go sweeten up to make it again this year -- the tomatoes in NYC have been so dicey this summer!

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about 1 year ago caarin

So nice and simple! I had a lot of corn and tomatoes around the other day so I sautéed a chopped shallot in butter until it was fragrant, then added the kernels from one ear of corn and cooked for 3 minutes, added a pinch of sea salt and couple of twists from the pepper grinder. I then tossed the corn in a serving bowl with raw chopped cherry tomatoes. Voila - favorite side dish of summer - next to the zucchini butter from this website. I'll have to try it with brown butter next time. Mmmmm.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You should add your corn recipe to the site.... :)

Paulnbuda

about 1 year ago Stubor

Maybe a sprinkle of rosemary?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Why not!

Paulnbuda

about 1 year ago Stubor

Or tarragon, or... 'scuz me, I got carried away.

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about 1 year ago sandra

tomatoes can be so sweet so brown butter actually makes a lot of sense.

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about 1 year ago Sara

I"m fairly certain it was Marcella Hazan who introduced the concept of cooking tomatoes with butter and not olive oil, incidentally - and a salad of tomatoes, peaches and mozz is definitely not a new idea!

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about 1 year ago ellent124

Who wouldn't want to be drizzled with browned butter :)

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over 1 year ago Xochi

D'oh! I meant to write that I added fresh mozzarella under the tomato slices. Either way, what a great recipe!

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over 1 year ago Xochi

Just made this tonight. Wow. What a revelation. I added a few thin slices of fresh mozzarella under the cheese. Perfect little late night snack.