This tomato conserva is savory-sweet, with a velvety texture that’s perfect for smearing on bread or tossing with pasta. Simmered in a good amount of olive oil, the tomatoes become silky-tender, with a deep, concentrated flavor and sweetness. Water added to the pot helps the tomatoes break down while preventing their natural sugars from scorching before the mixture reduces to a thick, jammy consistency. The conserva will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Don't be afraid to cook the tomatoes at a steady boil for the first 20 minutes; large bubbles should rise rapidly to the surface, but the mixture shouldn't cook so vigorously that it foams. After 20 minutes, stir frequently to prevent scorching and help break up the tomatoes.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Two 14-ounce cans Mutti cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 large bay leaves
In a large pot over medium, combine the oil and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully stir in the tomatoes, sugar, bay and 1 teaspoon salt, then add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally and maintaining a steady but not too vigorous boil, until the tomatoes begin to break down and stick to the bottom of the pot, about 20 minutes.
Reduce to medium and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the tomatoes, until the oil completely separates and the texture of the tomatoes has changed from saucy to thick and jammy, 15 to 25 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching.
Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. (If you prefer a slightly smoother texture, remove and discard the bay, then transfer the mixture to fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Press on the tomato solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the solids to a cutting board, reserving the liquid in the bowl, then chop with a chef's knife to the desired smoothness. Return the solids to the bowl and stir well.) Transfer to a pint-size jar, cool completely and cover tightly. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.