Apple, Strawberry, Lettuce, Peppers, Red Onion, Cucumber Salad

This is a light, fresh, citrusy salad that’s great in any season.

  • a combination of romaine, green leaf, and baby spinach
  • peeled cucumber , cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
  • about 2 slices of red onion, cut into small pieces
  • about 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 5-7 sliced strawberries
  • 1 apple cut into bite sized pieces
  • a handful of broken by hand Whole Foods Sea Salt Pita Chips

citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced  (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Greek Pasta Salad

I took my homemade dressing which has a Greek vinaigrette taste, and I added some pasta, and some veggies to create a pasta salad that tastes similar to a Greek salad.

It’s a little heartier than just a salad, and it makes a great leftover lunch.

For the dressing:

  • juice from 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil (I use a combination of light and extra virgin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes (in oil) minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

In a mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper, the red pepper flakes, the optional sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon zest, and the garlic. Then add the oil slowly as you continue to whisk. You can make this earlier in the day, and put it in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then when you are ready to use it, give it a few good shakes, and pour it over the salad right before you serve the salad.

for the pasta salad:

12 oz. rotelle or penne

1 1/2 greenhouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

about 12 kalamata pitted olives, cut in half

a few slices of red onion, diced

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

about 1 lb. of good feta, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

Cook the pasta till al dente.  Run under cool water.  Place in large serving bowl, and add all the veggies.  Then pour vinaigrette over salad and mix.  Put in fridge until ready to serve.

Another Pea Soup

I like to keep a  one pound bag of split peas in the house just in case we’re in the mood for pea soup. We just had the big blizzard the day after Christmas, and I was snowed in with my son Benji.  I couldn’t have been happier.  He loves soup, I love him, so I made him a pot of delicious, warming soup.  It was a great day.

1 pound bag of green split peas

1 pound bag of yellow split peas

2 large  onion

4 quarts water

about pound of organic carrots, cut into smallish chunks

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the peas.  Put in large saucepan.  Pour the water over.  Peel onions and then pierce with a fork, and place in pot whole.  Put sliced carrots in pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered about 2 hours over low flame, adding your salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with thin egg noodles, matzoh balls, cooked Kosher hot dogs pieces, or just plain.

Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin

This summer my daughter Randi reserves Thursdays to spend with me.  Yesterday was magnificent for me.  Randi and Noah (her 2 year old) came over in the morning.  We went to Holmdel Park with my son Danny, too.  Noah loved looking at and petting the sheep and then throwing stones in the pond.  Then I went home to cook, and Randi took Noah home for a nap.  Before Randi left, we decided on what I would make for dinner, I ran to the market, prepared this dish, then went back to Randi’s house with the food.  We went to the swim club for a great time with Randi’s friend Jessica and her beautiful daughter Maya.  I had the best time in the baby pool with them.  Noah had his first experience floating with a tube.  Then we went back to Randi’s house where I served this really yummy dish (I heated it up in the microwave).  I got the idea for this dish from watching an episode of “The Barefoot Contessa” where Ina Garten makes an eggplant gratin.  I changed a few things in her recipe, and I added zucchini, which really worked out well.  This recipe got the seal of approval from Randi, Noah, and Dan (my son-in-law), so I think I’ll be making this again.

  • 2 medium eggplant or 1 very large (I did not peel, but you may)
  • 1 very large zucchini or 2 medium-largish (I used 2)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta (I used whole milk, but you can use part skim)
  • 1/3 cup light cream or half and half, whatever you may  have around (I used light cream)
  • 1 large or extra large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. each kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • about 10-11 oz. of  freshly ground in processor parmesan (I used Bel Gioioso), measure 1/3 cup, and reserve the remainder
  • about 15 oz. of homemade or jarred marinara sauce- that’s a little more than a half of a 26 oz. jar of sauce (I used Via Roma Marinara from the A&P)
  • light olive oil for cooking the eggplant and zucchini 
  • crushed red pepper flakes for serving, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Make custard.  In medium mixing bowl, mix cream, 1/3 cup parmesan, ricotta, egg, salt, pepper; set aside.

Slice washed eggplant and zucchini about 1/4 inch thick.  Heat a very large frying pan (I have a huge cast iron skillet that I used; otherwise, I would have used a very large nonstick pan.)  After pan is really hot, pour a very small amount of oil in pan, basically just to coat the pan.  Drop eggplant and zucchini slices in, brown quickly and then flip, and brown again.  Place on paper towels to drain.  Repeat with remaining eggplant and zucchini – or alternately, use a grill pan (I have one that fits over 2 burners, it’s really big- it’s a griddle on the reverse side).  Just brush both sides of eggplant and zucchini with light olive oil, and grill till nice grill marks form, then flip, and cook on other side.  There is no need to drain on paper towels, because veggies are not very greasy when grilled.  This method uses much less oil, and it probably produces a healthier dish with many less calories.  I used this method the second time I made the dish and I loved making the veggies this way, and I will do this in the future.  In a large oval baking dish- equivalent to a 9 by 13 in baking dish, put a layer of eggplant and zucchini, filling up as many spaces as possible, but in one layer.  You can cut the slices of zucchini to fill in all the spaces.   Then sprinkle generously with the 1/3 cup of grated parmesan.  Spoon all of the 15 oz. of marinara sauce evenly over veggies.  Then place another layer of the eggplant and zucchini over, using up all.  Sprinkle lightly with a bit of the reserved parmesan.  Spoon all of the custard evenly over, then sprinkle remaining parmesan evenly on top. 

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 min.  Then change oven setting to low broil.  Place casserole in middle of oven, not too close to heat element.  Watch carefully and take out when top looks browned, but not burned.  Serve.

Note:  Use the smallest amount of oil if you are frying the veggies, because the more oil you use, the more will be absorbed by the vegetables, especially the eggplant.

Asparagus or Mushroom Quiche

I love quiche, but I don’t often make it because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly healthy.  When I happen to have a frozen pie crust in the freezer, either fresh or frozen asparagus or some mushrooms, some half and half or light cream, and swiss cheese in the fridge, I decide it’s time to treat myself and my daughter Randi, who loves my quiche.  I have these items handy more often now, because I’ve become a real Costco shopper, and I like to buy their fresh asparagus or mushrooms, and their lite gruyere cheese- which is delicious. This morning, I realized I had all the ingredients with about and hour and a half to spare, so I decided it was time to make some quiche.

for one quiche:

  • 3 extra large eggs or 3 large eggs plus one egg yolk (or 4 large eggs-3/2011)
  • 1 1/2 cups of light cream or half and half –  or 3/4 cup heavy cream plus 3/4 cup whole milk (March 2011, only used about 11/4 cups light cream)
  • about 1 pound or a little more fresh asparagus, roasted or 1/2 box of frozen asparagus spears, defrosted
  • 1 frozen deep dish pie shell, Oronique is my preference
  • 4 – 5 oz.  Swiss or Gruyere cheese ( I like to use lite gruyere or alpine lace, but any swiss is fine)(Used about 1/2 lb. 3-11)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Cut ends off asparagus spears.  Place on pan.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle a tablespoon of  light olive oil over, toss asparagus with oil.  Roast for about 20 -25 min. till asparagus is cooked.  Set aside to cool.  Then cut spears into bite sized pieces.  Or defrost 1 16 oz. box of frozen asparagus spears,  pat dry, then cut into bite sized pieces, use about 1/2 of the asparagus or more if you wish for one quiche.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.Take a frozen deep dish pie shell in its aluminum pan and place it in a pyrex pie plate to prevent any mess in the oven.   Prick pie crust all over with fork.  Bake for about 10 min.  Then take out of oven.

In medium bowl, whisk or beat with fork, eggs with cream, add salt and pepper.  Spread asparagus (or mushrooms-see instructions below) over bottom of crust, tear cheese into medium to smallish pieces and place over asparagus, pour egg and cream mixture over.   Place on sheet pan in preheated oven, and bake 45-55 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is nicely puffed and lightly browned.  Serve.

for mushroom quiche:

Saute 10 oz. of sliced white or baby bella mushrooms with or without 1/2 chopped onion, with little kosher salt, papper, optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil or only olive oil till caramelized.

Amazing Homemade Pizzas

I was really in the mood to make some delicious pizza last weekend.  I remembered that my son Danny had eaten pizza in New York City a few months ago that he had gone nuts for.  I wanted to recreate that pizza for Danny.  I had so much fun experimenting with making the pizzas, and the results were amazing!  First, I used half the recipe for my homemade pizza dough to make one large pie.  The pie was half plain, and half mushroom.  The second pie I made was specifically for my son Danny, to recreate the pie he had in NY.   For that pie, I topped it with some caramalized onions, and then with some shredded romano cheese.  Then I made some homemade spinach pesto, which Danny drizzed over some of his pizza.  I can’t tell how delicious those pies were!  Few pizzarias make pizza that taste this good!

Pizza Dough  (This dough recipe makes 2 large pizzas, but the following instructions are meant to be enough for only 1 pizza.)  For the dough recipe, type in calzone above in the search, and the recipe for the pizza dough will come up.

for the mushroom pizza:  Heat saute pan.  Put a little olive oil in a saute pan to coat. Put sliced mushrooms (about 8-10 oz.)  in hot oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, a few cracks of black pepper, and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Let sit undisturbed till mushrooms brown on bottom.  Turn and cook until nicely browned.  If you have fresh garlic on hand, mince or chop one or two cloves and throw into pan at this point.  Keep moving garlic around so it doesn’t burn.  Garlic just needs to saute for a minute to become translucent and be flavorful.  Although, I didn’t do this, you might want to add a sprinkling of either fresh thyme leaves (leaves from one sprig), or a sprinkling of dry oregano.  Saute another minute or so. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place sheet of parchment paper on large, heavy duty cookie sheet or half sheet pan. Sprinkle parchment paper with yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker).  Then, roll dough out on a lightly floured clean counter, or lightly floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness into either a large circle or rectangle.  Once dough is rolled out, lift the dough with your hands and transfer it to parchment on cookie sheet.  Then spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce over dough.  Sprinkle a very light sprinkling of red pepper flakes over sauce (if you like the heat).  Then sprinkle about 8 oz. of coursely grated or thinly sliced whole milk (not fresh) mozzarella cheese evenly over pizza.  Place mushrooms evenly over pizza.  Sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Bake on middle rack in oven for about 15-18 minutes until the underside of the dough is lightly browned.  Then change the setting on the oven to broil, and cook for about 3 more minutes until the cheese becomes bubbly, brown, and beautiful!

for the caramelized onion and romano pizza:

Thinly slice about 4 medium-large onions.  Pour about 1/4 cup olive oil into a large saute pan.  Get it hot over a medium flame.  Add the sliced onions.  Sprinkle them with kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Saute for about 30-40 minutes over a medium flame, turning every so often.  The idea is not to burn the onions, but to brown them.  This takes a little while, so be patient. Set pan aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over a large heavy duty cookie sheet or sheet pan.  Then sprinkle some yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker) on the parchment paper.   Roll dough out on lightly floured clean counter or sheet of waxed or parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, either into a large circle or a large rectangle.  Spoon about 1 cup marinara sauce over the dough.  Distribute onions evenly over top of sauce.  Sprinkle about 4 garlic cloves, minced on top.  Then sprinkle about 4 oz. of shredded, not grated, romano cheese (which I use because romano cheese has no lactose in it), or shredded parmesan cheese over top of pizza.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt,  red pepper flakes if you like a little heat, a little coarse black pepper,  and sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in the oven on middle rack for about 15 minutes until the bottom of the dough is lightly browned.  If pizza is browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Serve with pesto on the side, and spoon a little on if your wish.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Fresh Spinach And Mushroom Calzone With Fantastic Homemade Pizza Dough

I had so much fun this weekend cooking pizza and calzones. I made pizza dough from scratch, which is so easy. I divided the dough in half. I used half to make one huge calzone, and I used the other half to make a large beautiful pizza. Both were outstanding!!!! I had so much fun making it and  seeing the reaction I got  that I made another batch of the dough, froze half of the dough to make 2 smaller calzones, and this time I made an incredible pizza for my son Danny. We are brainwashed, I think to believe that we can only get great pizza (or calzones) from pizzerias, and it just isn’t true.

for the dough: (This makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas. or for one large pizza and one large calzone, or for one large pizza and 2 medium calzones, or for 2 large calzones. or for 4 medium calzones) Are you sufficiently confused? You can freeze the pizza dough by forming it into disks, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and then putting it in freezer ziploc bags.

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used light)
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (around 110 – 115 degrees)

I made the dough the first time in my food processor, and the second time in my standing mixer using the dough hook. Both worked great! I’ve made pizza dough by hand, and that works perfectly too!

Measure the hot water into a pyrex measuring cup. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Put a thermometer in if you have one and when the water temp is between 110 and 115 degrees (or lukewarm), pour in the yeast and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula.

When yeast mixer has some pools of tan bubbles which have risen to the top-(this will take about 5 minutes), add the 2 tablespoons of oil and  pour the yeast-water-oil mixture into either the large bowl of your mixer, the food processor bowl, or a large mixing bowl (if you are making dough by hand).  Then measure your dry ingredients (flour and salt) and dump into the yeast- water mixture. Use the dough hook with your mixer or the metal blade with your food processor.  On low speed with the mixer, mix for about 5-10 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl once or twice. Dough is done when it feels quite smooth. In the food processor, pulse until forms a ball, let it process for a few minutes.  Dump dough once it is smooth, onto a clean floured board or clean table or counter. Form into a ball. If you are doing by hand, pour water-yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl, dump dry ingredients into bowl.  Use a fork to bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid in the large bowl.  Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in. Dump mixture onto a large floured clean work surface, and knead the dough with clean, flour-dusted hands.  Knead the dough until you have a smooth, springy dough, about 5-7 minutes.

Form your smooth dough into one ball.  Grease a largish bowl very lightly with oil (you just want a slight film of oil in the bowl) and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in warm spot for one to two hours until the dough has doubled in size. Or place in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. If dough has not doubled by that time, take it out of fridge and place in warm spot for a little while till it has doubled. Then uncover the bowl, and dump dough out onto floured board, counter, or table. Turn it a few times. Then deflate the dough, get the air out of it by patting it down with your hand. Form it into a large disk about 12 inches in diameter. With a sharp knife, cut dough into as many pieces as you want. The larger the piece of dough, the larger the pizza or calzone will be. Form each piece you break off into a round disk about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Wrap with plastic wrap. Then refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to use. If you don’t plan on using the dough that day, then freeze it in a ziploc bag. Of course, you don’t have to refrigerate the dough disks if you are planning to make your pizza  right away.

for the calzone filling: ( I made one large calzone using half of the recipe of the pizza dough, but next time, I will make 2 smaller ones)

Double the following ingredients this if you are using ALL the dough for calzones: 

  • olive oil
  • 8 oz. mushrooms (I used white button)
  • 5-7 oz. prewashed baby spinach
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup either marinara sauce, or tomato sauce
  • a sprinkling of dried oregano or thyme or fresh 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves- about 4 sprigs)- optional
  • 1/2 pound of grated or sliced thin mozzarella cheese, either whole milk or part skim (I prefer to use a block of whole milk – not fresh – mozzarella cheese and either slice it or grate it myself)

Into a hot large saute pan, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, and toss in the hot oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, some cracks of black pepper, and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Let sit untouched until the mushrooms are browned.  Then turn them with a spatula.  Let them sit again until they are brown and smell fantastic.  Lower the flame and add the garlic, and let the garlic get translucent, but do not burn.  Add the thyme or organo, if you are using it.   Drop in the butter and toss the mushrooms in it to make them tasty and shiny.

Add the tomato sauce or the marinara sauce.  Heat for a few minutes.  Turn heat either down or off completely, add the fresh spinach (in batches if you need to).  Toss.  The spinach will wilt from the heat of the hot ingredients in the pan.  The spinach doesn’t need to cook!  You should have a thick, tasty mixture that’s not too moist. (If your mixture is too liquidy, it will burst through the dough when you’re cooking the calzone).

Divide the spinach and mushroom mixture into either 1 or two portions depending on whether you are making one large or two smaller calzones.  (You can make this filling in advance and refrigerate until you are ready to use.)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place parchment paper on heavy duty baking sheet.  Then roll dough out on another sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper which has been floured.  Roll into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Place on prepared parchment lined baking sheet.  Place the filling on one half of the circle, then put the cheese on top of the filling, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dried oregano (optional).  Lift the other side of the dough up, and fold over the other side.  You will have a half circle or half moon shape.  Crimp the edges really well so none of the filling can spill out.  Cook for about 12-18 minutes until the dough is puffed up and golden  on top,  golden on the underside, and the filling is hot.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Cut the large calzone into at least 2 pieces. 2 smaller calzones are probably perfect for large single size portions.

Note:  If you have made the spinach-mushroom mixture in advance, bring to room temperature before you fill the calzones and bake them.

Note:  For recipe for incredible homemade pizzas using this dough, type the word pizza into the search engine at the top of the cite.

Vegetarian Pea Soup With Matzah Balls

I have made pea soup for years.  For years, I made it with flanken.  My mother, father, and children loved it.  My in-law Marcia Greenhouse though had the brilliant idea of making the soup without meat and adding matzah balls to the recipe!  Since her son and my daughter were both vegetarians who couldn’t eat chicken soup with matzah balls, she decided, why not make the matzah balls with pea soup?  The consensus in the family is that Marcia’s matza balls are better than mine, and I totally agree.  My daughter Randi always asks me why Marcia’s matzah balls are better than mine, and I just don’t have the answer.   Here is the recipe for my delicious pea soup and my and Marcia’s matzah balls.  Oh, I made a really big pot, and then I freeze the rest in quart containers (with the matza balls).

for the soup: 

  • 6 tubes of Manischewitz split pea soup mix (I throw the seasoning packets away)
  • about 24 cups of cold water (about 5 quarts)
  • kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons or to taste
  • pepper, about 2 – 3 teaspoons or to taste
  • 2 large onions, peeled – but left whole
  • 2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
  • optional – 1/2 box of alphabet noodles or barley shaped noodles (only if you are not making matzah balls)

Pour the contents of  6 tubes of Manischewitz pea soup mix into the bottom of a very large pot.  Pour in about 24 cups of water (about 4 cups of water for each soup mix packet).  Pierce the two onions with a fork and place in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Skim scum off top.  Add salt and pepper.  Lower flame to low.  Simmer with top on.  After about one hour, add the cut up carrots.  Continue to simmer with cover on  for at least one more hour until you don’t see any more pieces of dried peas.  Discard onions.  If you are adding the noodles, boil them separately and then add them to the soup when the soup is fully cooked.

for the matzah balls:

  • 1 box (2 packets) Manishewitz matzah ball mix
  • oil and eggs- for quantities, see instructions on box

Follow directions on the box exactly.  Refrigerate batter, according to directions on the box.  Then, form the matzah balls using dampened hands.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the matzah balls to that pot and cook according to package directions.  Add  cooked matzah balls to the soup. 

Note:  Freeze leftover soup and matzah balls in quart containers. 

   

Thin-Sliced Fried Eggplant With Marinara Sauce

I had this at my in-law’s Marsha’s house. Her husband Al Berman made this for an appetizer. It was DELICIOUS!!! You can serve this as an appetizer, or as a quick and healthy dinner served with marinara sauce and a salad. Believe it or not, my sons, Danny and Benji both love this, and they hate eggplant. Try this for your kids.

  • 1 or 2 eggplants (choose eggplants that have a smaller diameter), peeled
  • 1 or 2 eggs (or as many as necessary) mixed with a little water
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • oil, for frying
  • marinara sauce, for serving

Peel eggplants and slice them thinly, between an 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Place in egg mixture. Then dredge in bread crumbs thoroughly on both sides.

Heat a large frying pan or 2 pans until hot. Then add oil, either light olive oil, canola, corn, or vegetable oil about 1/8 inch high in pan. When oil starts to shimmer, add eggplant. Fry on both sides until nicely browned.  Add oil as needed.

Serve with marinara sauce, either a good jarred variety such as “The Silver Palate” or my delicious homemade marinara sauce.

Simple Fusilli With Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce

I was over at my daughter’s house a few weeks ago.  She had some beautiful organic cherry tomatoes on the counter.  So I made a quick tomato sauce and tossed it with some fusilli and it was delicious.  She told me the next day that her husband Dan actually did something only my son Benji has done, he picked up his plate and licked it clean!

  • about 12 ounces of fusilli pasta 
  • about 1/4 cup of olive oil (I use light)
  • 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped (you may substitute 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn)

Boil water in large pot for pasta.  Then cook pasta till al dente, reserving a little of the pasta water.

In medium-large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add red pepper flakes, and saute a minute or so .  Add grape or cherry tomatoes, the salt, pepper, and cook over medium heat until tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4-6 minutes.  Then add the minced garlic, and saute another minute or two.  Last, add the oregano, and cook another minute. 

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce.  Add a little pasta water if pasta seems a little dry.

Optional:  Add 4 – 8 oz. of diced fresh or block mozzarella cheese and toss it before you serve pasta.  I have made this both ways, but I prefer it without the cheese.