Don't call this tomato paste! You'll want a spoonful of this in any dish that suffers from a lack depth or richness or is just sadly bland. This is tomatoe-y, yes, but also intense, sweet, and tart, all at once.
|3 lb||tomatoes (ripe, juicy, see note)|
|6 clv||garlic (optional, finely minced)|
|1||onion (optional, finely minced)|
|1⁄4 c||olive oil|
Very finely chop the tomatoes, being careful to reserve the tomato juice. In a large, deep, heavy skillet, heat the sunflower oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion (if using), and cook until very soft, stirring all the while, about 15 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Pour the tomatoes into the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, and stir. Cook, stirring once in a while, for at least 90 minutes. During the cooking time, the tomatoes will gradually become thicker, first turning into a thick sauce, and then it will get sticky. As it gets thicker, stir more frequently. When sticky, stir even more, scraping the bottom of the pot. At a certain point, the oil will look like it's separating from the tomatoes - keep stirring, and suddenly the tomatoes will stick together like a dough. You've made tomato paste! Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. When cool, place in small jars or other containers, press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface. The tomato concentrate will keep in the refrigerator for weeks. For longer storage, keep in the freezer.
If you don't like tomato skins and seeds, press the tomatoes through a fine-mesh strainer before beginning to cook.