Italian Christmas: Make Lidia's shrimp fettuccine, peppers and more

Give your Christmas dinner an Italian spin with a little help from Lidia Bastianich. She dishes out her recipes for fettuccine with shrimp and leek sauce, savory stuffed peppers and anise cookies.

Fresh fettuccine with shrimp and leek sauce
Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
    • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
    • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, white and -light--green parts thinly sliced
    • 12 ounces zucchini, sliced into -1/4--inch--thick -half--moons
    • 1 pound fresh fettuccine
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 cups San Marzano canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
    • 1 pound medium sized shrimp shelled and divined
    • 1/4 loosely packed cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the leeks and zucchini. Cook until softened (about 4 minutes).Season the vegetables with the salt and crushed red pepper. Add the tomatoes and 4 ounces of pasta cooking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened.In the meantime, add the fettuccine noodles to the boiling water. While the fettuccine is cooking, add the shrimp to the sauce and bring back to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Add the chopped basil and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Toss and serve hot.

Savory stuffed peppers
Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 4 medium--sized red, yellow or orange bell peppers
    • 4 cups of day-old country-bread cubes, sliced into 1-inch cubes
    • 1 cup milk
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
    • 4 anchovies, chopped
    • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 1/3 cup pitted Gaeta olives, chopped
    • 1/4 cup tiny capers in brine, drained
    • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (about 1 cup)
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
    • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the stems of the peppers and cut lengthwise into thirds to make "boats" that will hold the stuffing. Remove the pit and the seeds. Put the cubed bread in a bowl and pour the milk over it. When the bread is softened, squeeze out the excess milk and put the bread in a large bowl.In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the anchovies and stir to dissolve them into the oil. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers. Cook until the tomatoes just begin to soften but still retain their shape, about 3 minutes. Add to the bowl with the bread and let cool.Mix the scallions, egg, grated cheese and parsley into the bowl with the bread.Grease a 10x13-inch baking dish with the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season the inside of the peppers with the salt. Mound some stuffing into the crevice of each pepper boat, but do not overstuff. Lay them in the baking dish, stuffing side up. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the filling is browned and the peppers are tender—about 15 minutes more.

Anise cookies
Servings:

Makes 48 cookies

Ingredients

  • For the cookies:

    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup fine semolina
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
    • 2 tablespoons sambuca
    • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
    • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • For the glaze:

    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon anise extract
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preparation

Baking Directions:

For the cookies:In a bowl, stir together flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a spouted measuring cup, whisk together the egg, yolks, sambuca and anise extract. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the combination is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg-yolk mixture to the mixer and beat on medium until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low just until combined. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap it with plastic and chill it until firm (about 1 hour). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into four dozen balls and bake in batches on parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden. Rotate the pans from the top to bottom racks in your oven halfway through the baking time.For the glaze:Whisk the milk and anise extract into the confectioners' sugar to make a smooth glaze about the thickness of pancake batter. Add a little more milk or confectioners' sugar to adjust the consistency. Dip or drizzle the cookies with glaze and let set on a rack.

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