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This easy, tangy-sweet conserva (aka tomato paste) from Christopher Kimball, author of Milk Street: The New Rules is a great way to coax great flavor out of supermarket tomatoes.
"Tomato conserva—fresh tomatoes cooked down into an intense, concentrated paste—is an old Italian recipe devised as a way to preserve summer produce," Christopher says. "Slowly cooking down cherry or grape tomatoes in olive oil transforms them into a sauce that is thick, sweet and rich, and adding water slows the cooking, allowing the tomatoes to fully break down and soften. Spread tomato conserva on grilled bread or bruschetta or serve as part of a cheese platter. Also use it as a base for pasta sauce, mixed into cooked rice or other grains, or try it in paninis or grilled cheese sandwiches."
Adapted from Milk Street: The New Rules: Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook by Christopher Kimball. Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Kimball. Used with permission by Voracious. All rights reserved.
In a large pot over medium heat, combine olive oil with garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, bay leaves, kosher salt, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a steady but not too vigorous boil, until the tomatoes burst and begin sticking to the bottom of the pot, 30 to 35 minutes. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the tomatoes, until the oil separates to the surface, 20 to 25 minutes; be sure to scrape the bottom. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
Use immediately or transfer to a pint-sized jar, cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.