Emily Compagno shares her dad’s recipe for a delicious holiday pasta dish


Who among us can resist a plate of warm, delicious pasta topped with freshly grated cheese — and served up in the festive spirit of the Christmas holidays (along with a heap of love, laughter, gratitude, and good wishes)?

OK, time to dish!

Tucked into the new book All American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy is a collection of holiday-focused recipes shared by Fox News personalities. 

Among the offerings is a pasta dish from Emily Compagno, a cohost of Fox News’ “Outnumbered.”

Emily Compagno and her dog, Duchess, in front of the family's beautifully decorated Christmas tree. 

Emily Compagno and her dog, Duchess, in front of the family’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree. 
(Courtesy Emily Compagno)

As she says in the book, “There’s a lot of joy in the things we have, but the real joy is when they serve as reminders of family, loved ones, and Christmas joy.” It’s why she wanted to share some heartwarming stories of her close-knit family, which includes her mom, dad, two older sisters, and a large extended family.

Here, from All American Christmas, is a helping of holiday goodness from Emily Compagno, including a recipe from her dad. It’s one you may want to try making (immediately!) for your own family, as it’s sure to please probably the toughest crowds.

‘My dad is an incredible cook’: Emily Compagno shares a taste of the Christmas season

Emily Compagno in All American Christmas: Our Italian-American heritage featured prominently in our Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, we got to open presents from our extended family. Most of my Sicilian family on my dad’s side lived two hours away on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula, a place of rich Italian-American history. 

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My incredible grandmother Nonnie Josephine and the memory of my grandfather Nonno Giovanni; her magical two sisters, Violent and Evelyn; her brother, Joe; my beloved uncle Nino and auntie Catherine and the three best cousins in the world; my beautiful godmother, Mary Ann; and all the rest of my wonderful family celebrated Christmas and life with us every time we were together. My dear uncle (and godfather) Sal was our close neighbor in Berkeley, California, and would join us for our Christmas celebration.

We were very close with our family, and I loved visiting them and celebrating Christmas there every year just prior to the actual holiday. At home on Christmas Day, we’d open presents from Santa and from my immediate family. We were allowed to open our stockings instantly upon waking up but had to wait for everyone to be awake and downstairs to open the actual gifts. 

On Christmas mornings, Emily Compagno and her sisters had to wait for the rest of the family "to be awake and downstairs" before they could open their gifts from Santa and her immediate family. Oh, the anticipation!

On Christmas mornings, Emily Compagno and her sisters had to wait for the rest of the family “to be awake and downstairs” before they could open their gifts from Santa and her immediate family. Oh, the anticipation!
(iStock, File)

Every gift had a tag signed “From Santa” or “Love, Mom & Dad.” And in every written “Mom,” the “o” was a heart. 

Strong, rich coffee (with milk for the kids) with my dad’s famous homemade Café Beaujolais coffee cake was the perfect breakfast while we exchanged gifts.

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We enjoyed a huge Italian meal both nights, with stories, laughter, and talking around the table far into the night. My sisters and I took turns saying grace, and not one bite was had until we had all toasted to family and good health. Salute!

Always we had caprese to start, presented in the il tricolore circular fashion with each layer of fresh, hand-sliced mozzarella cheese, fresh basil (often picked from our garden), and ripe red tomatoes encircling mixed or black olives in the center of the dish. 

"As adults," says Emily Compagno, "we've taken the same recipes and traditions from our family's two-day celebration and turned it into a three-day one!" 

“As adults,” says Emily Compagno, “we’ve taken the same recipes and traditions from our family’s two-day celebration and turned it into a three-day one!” 

My dad is an incredible cook, and pasta alla Siciliana or capellini with sundried tomatoes would follow, with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano lightly sprinkled on top. 

There was also fresh, warm bread with olive oil for dipping and vegetables sauteed with just olive oil, lemon, and a bit of salt and pepper.  

Dad’s Pasta alla Siciliana, from Emily Compagno: Try the recipe

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

14.5-ounce can diced or whole tomatoes

2 teaspoons dried oregano (or fresh oregano, chopped)

8-10 anchovy fillets, minced

24 Nicoise or green olives, pitted and halved

2 ½ tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and chopped

1 pound penne or mostaccioli

Instructions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes and oregano, crumbling the oregano between your fingers. Cook at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. If it appears dry, add a bit of water.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the anchovies, olives, and capers.

5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the instructions on the box until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and stir to coat. Add the reserved pasta water if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

6. Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.

Excerpted from All American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. To buy your copy of the book, click here

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