Some dishes, while unquestionably delicious, can seem monotonous after a few bites—pasta with pesto, say, or fettucine alfredo. They need a sharp contrasting flavor for balance. They need tomato jam.
Simply heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, then add a pint of whole grape tomatoes. If you like, you can also add a teaspoon of minced garlic.
When the tomatoes get hot, they will begin to split their skins. Using a potato masher or another blunt instrument, gently press down on the tomatoes to push out their juices. (Be careful not to squirt yourself in the eye, and it's probably best not to wear your favorite white silk shirt for this maneuver.)
Add a bay leaf and a scant half teaspoon of herbs de provence or thyme, and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, until the juices have thickened.
Is tomato jam a condiment or a side dish? We think it falls somewhere in between. It's much less concentrated (and sweet) than ketchup, but you wouldn't eat a big bowl of it. Generally, a couple of tablespoons are enough to provide an excellent foil for soufflés, burgers, and cheesy dishes in need of an acid boost. It's good served hot or at room temperature.