Lidia Bastianich's Multicultural Independence Day

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The two chefs share how they celebrate Independence Day with plenty of food, family, and friends

To Start: Grilled Corn and Figs with Balsamic Reduction

This simple side dish is easily made first thing in the morning; your grill doesn’t have to be the perfect temperature, so just grill a whole ear of corn, then some figs, and make a reduction to drizzle as the final finish. "It’s wonderful," Bastianich said. "It’s almost a meal by itself."

Click here for the recipe.

To Serve: Stuffed Hamburger

A classic hamburger patty gets an Italian remix with some sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and a mozzarella/basil stuffing. It's easily done the day before, Bastianich said, but the trick is handling the grill. "Make sure that half of the grill is hot so you can mark your meat, but once you have it marked you can move it to the medium heat so the juices remain," Bastianich said. "The temperature is very important. When you flavor the meat, it will burn if there’s sugar, so with the sun-dried tomatoes, the meat will burn faster."

Click here for the recipe.

To Sauce: Hamburger Sauce

"Italians don’t really have a hamburger sauce, so for me it’s like looking at the American tomato sauce," Bastianich explained. So this tomato sauce, with its vegetable-heavy base and hand-crushed tomatoes, is practically Italian. "For me it’s almost inevitable to pull the American flavor and make it more Italian," Bastianich said. Purée it for a smooth, ketchup-like quality or leave the chunks in to serve later over pork chops.

Click here for the recipe.

To Finish: Peach Granita

Summer always calls for juicy peaches, and this granita can be made ahead of time. But of course, any peach purée can be turned into multiple desserts; granita is easy because it’s done before hand, but "put it in a blender and it makes a slush, a frozen smoothie, that’s delicious as well," Bastianich said.

Click here for the recipe.

To Drink: Bellini

What’s a celebration without some bubbly? Grab some prosecco, make a fresh strawberry purée, and pour the two together for a simple yet elegant cocktail. "With 1 pint of strawberries, I would put 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar, and I would let that macerate a bit," Bastianich said. Purée that, divide the strawberries into some 10 champagne glasses one-fifth of the way up, and top off with prosecco and blueberries. Even the color scheme is appropriate. (Kiddies, we assume, can get some club soda in lieu of booze.)