Food Team Traditions
Linguini with White Clam Sauce
"Since I’m Italian American, our family celebrates the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve. Everyone prepares something different—from linguine with clam sauce to stuffed flounder. There are so many options to choose from, you never leave hungry!"
—Regina Ragone, Food Director
1 pound linguine
1/3 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 cans (6 1/2 ounces) clams, undrained
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 pound fresh littleneck clams (about 12), scrubbed clean
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon slices, for garnish
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook linguine 7 minutes, until almost done (pasta will be firm). Drain, reserving 3/4 cup cooking water.
While pasta is cooking, place olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute. Pour in wine and simmer 2 minutes.
Stir in canned clams with their juice and reserved pasta water. Reduce heat to medium-low and add lemon zest and juice. Add littleneck clams; cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes or until clams open. Remove each clam to a plate as it opens. Discard any unopened clams.
Add drained linguine to the skillet and toss with clam sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook 2 minutes or until pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Stir in parsley, salt and black pepper. Let stand off the heat for a few minutes so pasta absorbs all the sauce.
Spoon pasta into a large bowl and garnish with clams and lemon slices.
Italian Breakfast Strata
"Each year we put together a strata on Christmas Eve and refrigerate it overnight. On Christmas morning we bake it, have a few rounds of opening presents and then take a breakfast break of hot-from-the-oven strata and fresh fruit."
—Julie Miltenberger, Executive Food Editor
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: at 350° for 1 hour
Let Stand: 10 minutes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 each green and red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 loaf Italian bread (14 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup packed basil leaves, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and add water. Let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and chop. Stir into sausage mixture in skillet.
Place bread cubes in a very large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk and chopped basil. Stir sausage mixture into bread along with 1 cup of the cheese. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture and stir to moisten all ingredients. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour bread mixture into prepared dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Heat oven to 350°. Uncover dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil. Bake, covered, at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
"Our large extended family always has a Christmas Eve gathering. Various salami-and-cheese-stuffed breads always make an appearance. We’re a competitive group, so every year there’s a lively debate about whose version is the best!"
—Michael Tyrrell, Associate Food Editor
Makes: 2 loaves (16 slices, 1 inch thick, per loaf)
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes
2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen pizza bread dough, thawed
All-purpose flour for rolling dough
½ pound Genoa salami, thinly sliced
½ pound shredded mozzarella
½ cup sliced roasted red peppers
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a baking sheet.
On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out 1 loaf of dough into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle.
With a long side facing you, place ¼ pound salami over surface, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle salami with half the cheese, half the red peppers and half the olives.
Starting from long side, roll side over itself, about 2 inches. Continue to roll until like a loaf of French bread. Paint edges with water; press long stem and ends to seal very tightly so cheese doesn’t ooze out.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients.
Brush both loaves with olive oil. Place loaves, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet, leaving space between the loaves.
Bake in 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crusts are lightly golden.
Let loaves cool on baking sheet on a wire rack 10 minutes before slicing.
Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut
"My mom embraces the Polish part of our heritage by preparing sausages and sauerkraut. She has even acquired my great-uncle’s sausage recipe and will sometimes make the links from scratch."—Melissa Knific, Associate Food Editor
Makes: 12 main-dish servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Bake: at 325° for 1 hour
4 pounds uncooked Polish sausage (kielbasa)
6 slices uncooked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 bags (2 pounds each) sauerkraut, drained
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 packages (10.5 ounces each) spaetzle, cooked
Sweet paprika (optional)
Place sausage in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, until internal temperature of sausage reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer. Remove sausage from pot, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until browned but not crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel-lined plate.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from pan (if there isn't 3 tablespoons, add enough butter or oil to reach that amount). Whisk in flour and cook over medium heat until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in reserved cooking water and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Toss sauerkraut, onion, apple, bacon, gravy and caraway seeds in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Slice sausage into 2-inch pieces and scatter on top. Bake uncovered at 325° for 1 hour or until lightly browned. Gently stir sausage into sauerkraut mixture, along with cooked spaetzle. Sprinkle with paprika, if using.