TODAY   |  December 24, 2013

An Italian twist on Christmas Eve dinner

Chef Lidia Bastianich, with help from TODAY’s Savannah and Willie, shares festive Italian recipes for a delicious Christmas Eve dinner, including fresh fettuccine with shrimp and leek sauce.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> today's holiday kitchen. this morning, an italian feast that's perfect for a hectic holiday-like christmas. she's the author of the new book lidia's common sense italian cooking. good morning.

>> good morning, willie , savannah. [ speaking italian ]

>> we could go on like this all morning.

>> are you going to make the feast of the seven fishes tonight?

>> i am. i am.

>> are you?

>> this is one of the dishes that fits into it. the little pasta . savannah, how's your cooking lately?

>> i'm working on it. it's a new years resolution.

>> how about you willie ?

>> i enjoy a little cooking.

>> so pasta , fresh or dry is fine. a little garlic, a little leeks, sue zuchini and shrimp.

>> is there a difference if you do this fresh or homemade pasta .

>> it is. it's a little difference in the texture. the dry pasta remains more al denti. put a little red pepper in there.

>> okay.

>> all of it.

>> okay.

>> a little bit of salt on this.

>> okay.

>> and the tomato. this is plum tomatoes that i crushed. so go ahead and put it all in there.

>> can you just use tomato sauce ?

>> no.

>> come over here. willie , let's rinse that out.

>> okay.

>> let's not waste anything.

>> okay.

>> collect all around, savannah. put everything in there. all of these little pieces in there.

>> beautiful.

>> did you put salt willie ?

>> i did.

>> you let this simmer like that.

>> do i cover it or anything?

>> no, you don't need to cover it. let it simmer and you put the pasta to cook. so here we have -- we have the sauce that simmered for about ten minutes.

>> okay.

>> this this is how it looks. we have a little bit of basil here and the shrimp. willie , you're in charge of the pasta .

>> yes, ma'am.

>> but first, put the shrimps in.

>> dump it or one by one.

>> okay.

>> mix it well in there.

>> i don't want to mess it up.

>> you're asking a good question.

>> okay. good, good. get it under the sauce.

>> yeah.

>> okay. now here's a dumb question. were those -- i shouldn't even ask. were those shrimp precooked or are we cooking them now?

>> no.

>> i'm --

>> you're doing fine.

>> i have a lot of experience.

>> i need a little bit of pasta water right in here.

>> just the water.

>> just the water. you see when your sauce is dense.

>> coming in hot.

>> there you go.

>> why the water?

>> to make it a little soft.

>> okay.

>> water is fine. doesn't that look better now.

>> it does.

>> you can fish the pasta out of there and put it in here.

>> coming in hot again savannah.

>> right in there.

>> clear.

>> don't go like this because it's going to go down your sleeves.

>> that's okay.

>> that's perfect. i'll help a little here. so you see, just like that.

>> oh, that looks good.

>> doesn't this look good.

>> all right in the pan.

>> you see. all in the pan. the pasta is undercooked. the shrimp is continuing to cook. you don't want overcooked shrimp. shrimp don't take long. as long as it will take the pasta to coat, the shrimp will be nice and cooked.

>> so did you say you sort of want to undercook the pasta and then do the final bit here?

>> absolutely. you undercook it a little bit and put it in the sauce and finish the cooking and it takes the sauce in and flavors good.

>> beautiful.

>> i would even take -- willie give me a little bit of oil. drizzle a little bit of oil on top of here. that's it. savannah take a little bit of basil. oh, you're a great assistant here. does this look good?

>> that looks amazing.

>> can you do this savannah?

>> sure i can. i appreciate your confidence.

>> all right.

>> now you're going to bring some for us.

>> yes, i will.

>> here's the finish. these are great peppers and it's good, let's say meatless. it's meatless. this is bread, you take bread, you soak it in milk and then you chop some olives, some capers, some cheese, some egg, some basil and you mix it nice and make a nice stuffing. you take your peppers, stuff it and put it in the oven about 30 minutes .

>> quartered peppers?

>> absolutely and parmesan on top.

>> oh my goodness.

>> and cookies for dessert.

>> traditional.

>> very traditional.

>> beautiful as always.

>> you made it so fun. thank you.

>> merry christmas .

>> merry christmas to you.

>> you can find lidia's recipes and more on our website