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Start off your holidays with an Italian feast

The Scotto family prepares a holiday meal — Fresco style! Check out their savory recipes.
/ Source: Weekend Today

The Scotto family of the New York City restaurant Fresco, and authors of the new cookbook “Scotto Sunday Suppers,” visited “Weekend Today” to serve up a holiday menu — Italian style. Here are the recipes:

Eggplant and Zucchini Pie with Fresh Tomato Sauce
(6 servings)

Fresh Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon salt 8 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Cheese Mixture
2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese 2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, diced 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 4 eggs Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Eggplant and Zucchini Pie
2 medium eggplants, peeled 4 medium zucchini salt 4 cups all-purpose flour 10 eggs 4 cups prepackaged bread crumbs 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Freshly ground black pepper 2 quarts olive oil or vegetable cooking oil 5 cups tomato sauce (see recipe)  

To make the tomato sauceIn a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes. red pepper flakes, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and a sauce is formed. Stir in the basil.

To make the cheese mixtureIn a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate briefly to firm the mixture.

To make the eggplant and zucchini pie
Slice the eggplants and zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick round slices. Set the zucchini aside. Fill a bowl with lightly salted water, add the eggplants, and soak for 1 1/2 to 2 hours to remove the bitter taste. Drain. In one shallow bowl, place the flour. In a second bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until blended. In a third bowl, mix the bread crumbs, 1 1/2 cups of the Parmesan cheese, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Line up the bowls on a work surface. One at a time, carefully dip the eggplant and zucchini slices first into the flour, making sure both sides are covered; then into the egg mixture, and finally into the bread crumb mixture. Coat both sides very well and gently tap off any excess coating. Transfer the eggplant and zucchini slices to a large plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplant slices in a single layer and sauté on both sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, making sure that they are soft and cooked all the way through. Try not to crowd the pan. Fry the zucchini next. Place the cooked eggplant and zucchini on paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce, then a layer of 1/4 of the eggplant and zucchini, and top with a layer of 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Repeat the process three times. Top with a layer of tomato sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Wild Mushroom and Chickpea Soup with Spareribs
(6 servings)

2 ounces dried porcini or other wild mushrooms 1/2 cup dry white wine 4 tablespoons olive oil 8 pork spareribs (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into individual pieces 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice 3 large garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice 2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained 6 ounces fresh cremini or other mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced 7 cups water Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup finely minced fresh basil

In a small bowl, soak the porcini mushrooms in the wine for 30 minutes to soften them. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and reserve the wine. Finely chop the mushrooms and set them aside. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the spareribs. Sauté until they are lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, turning the ribs occasionally. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well, and cook 1 minute. Add the dried mushrooms, wine, parsley, potatoes, chickpeas, fresh mushrooms, water, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a very slow but steady simmer and cook, covered, until the spareribs are very tender, about 2 hours. Stir frequently but gently. Serve hot, with a sparerib placed to the side of each bowl so the bone is evident. Sprinkle basil over each serving.

Pan-Roasted Wild King Salmon, Wild Fall Mushrooms, Roasted Butternut Squash and Fingerling Potatoes (6 servings)

Vegetable Garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound fingerling potatoes or small new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch rounds 5 to 6 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (preferably chanterelle, hen of the woods, porcini or black trumpet) trimmed, washed, dried and sliced or cut into quarters1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch squares Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Six 6-ounce portions wild king salmon, skin on, scaled and pin bones removed Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil Aged balsamic vinegar

To make the vegetable garnish
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly brown, and set aside. Add the butternut squash and cook until the squash is lightly browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stirring, and cook 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and set aside.

To make the salmon
Season the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste on both sides. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick sauté pan over medium to high heat. Cook the salmon for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. When the salmon is nicely browned on both sides, the fish should be done to medium and have an opaque center. Arrange the pan-roasted vegetables on a large serving platter and top with the salmon. Spoon any remaining juices from the vegetables over the fish and vegetables. Finish by drizzling aged balsamic vinegar over the fish and vegetables. Serve immediately.

(Cremini, oyster or shiitake mushrooms may be substituted as well.)

Maple- and Bourbon-Glazed Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples and Sun-Dried Cranberries
(6 servings)

1/2 cup Vermont maple syrup 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup excellent-quality bourbon whiskey  

1/2 cup sun-dried cranberries 3 tablespoons butter 1/2 onion, finely diced 1/4 cup finely diced celery 1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely diced 1/2 pound well-seasoned ground sausage meat 1 pound breakfast sausage meat, casings removed, crumbled 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley Salt and freshly ground black pepper  

Pork Roast
Have butcher prepare a 5- to 6-pound boneless pork loin roast, split lengthwise down the middle for stuffing.

To make the glaze
Mix all the ingredients except the bourbon in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a slow simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the ingredients lightly coat a spoon. Add bourbon to the desired flavor. Set aside.

To make the stuffing
Reconstitute the cranberries in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes or until soft, then drain and set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the mixture starts to stick, then add the sun-dried cranberries. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and let cool. When cool, add both kinds of sausage, the bread crumbs, and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

To make the pork roast
Preheat the oven to 400°F with the roasting pan inside. Spread the stuffing on the pork and roll up the loin. Fasten it securely with skewers and tie with butcher twine.Place the loin on the preheated roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and roast until the internal temperature reaches 150°F. Let the loin rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then reheat the bourbon glaze in a small pan over low heat. Remove the skewers and twine, then brush the loin with the glaze. Slice the loin in 1/4-inch slices, arrange on a platter, and glaze again just before serving.

Chestnut Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
(6 to 10 servings)

Graham Cracker Crust
7 ounces graham cracker crumbs 1/4 cup cake flour 1/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Chestnut Filling
1 cup canned chestnut purée 3 eggs 3/4 cup sugar 2 pounds whole milk ricotta 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Caramel Sauce
2 cups sugar 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup heavy cream

To make the graham cracker crust
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan that has been covered with aluminum foil. Bake for 12 minutes and set aside.

To make the chestnut filling
Reduce the oven to 300°F. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Purée until smooth and pour into the graham cracker crust. Place the pan inside a larger pan in the oven. Fill the larger pan with hot water. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool for 1 hour. When it is completely cooked, wrap well and refrigerate.

To make the caramel sauce
Combine the sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pot around until the mixture is a deep caramel color and looks like syrup, about 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the cream (it will bubble up) and continue to cook for another minute. Cool to room temperature. Pour over the cheesecake before serving. 

(The caramel sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator.)