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Gardening in Central Oregon is a challenge, and growing tomatoes is for the most intrepid. Dodging frosty nights and reckoning with sandy soil to harvest this sweet summer treat calls for attention equivalent of hand holding: sowing seeds in a greenhouse, transplanting starts with an eye to overnight temperatures, and having cover at the ready for these sensitive plants during cold spells that sometimes pop up even in July. Whether you reap the crop from your own bounty of Sweet 100s or bring tomatoes home from the local farmer’s market, here are two ways to enjoy the reward of this taste of summer. 



+ 2 pints assorted cherry tomatoes, halved

+ 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

+ 3 T fresh basil, chopped

+ 1 T white wine vinegar

+ 2 T extra-virgin olive oil

+ 1/2 tsp. salt

+ 1/2 tsp. sugar

+ 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Combine basil, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar and pepper in a bowl. Mix together with cherry tomatoes and onion, chill and serve. NOTE: This salad is an excellent place to experiment with fresh tastes from the garden or farmer’s market. Add chives, Italian parsley or a favorite seasonal herb of choice. For another boost of flavor, feta gives this salad a Mediterranean flair and half a cup of crumbled cheese is just about right for this salad’s proportions.


Roasting tomatoes brings out even more of their ripe sweetness. The addition of balsamic vinegar allows them to caramelize in the process, giving depth to this quick and easy summer favorite.


+ 3 pints cherry tomatoes

+ 1/2 cup olive oil

+ 2 T balsamic vinegar

+ 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

+ 1/2 tsp. salt

+ 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

+ 1 pound thin spaghetti or Capellini pasta

+ 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

+ Freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. Spread tomatoes on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes have a light char. Meanwhile, boil water and prepare pasta as directed (the cooking time will vary by the pasta variety). When cooked through, drain pasta and mix with roasted tomato mixture. Toss with fresh basil and serve with Parmesan cheese.