The Feast of Dante Alighieri

Dante AlighieriToday, September 13, is the Feast of Dante Alighieri. Born Durante degli Alighieri in Florence, Dante was a major Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. He is best known for the epic poem The Divine Comedy, which describes the three tiers of the Christian afterlife: purgatory, heaven, and hell. He died of Malaria on September 13 (some sources say 14), 1321 ev.

In honor of Dante’s origins in and exile from Florence, please enjoy this recipe from Food52:

First Night in Florence Spaghetti


  • ½ package spaghetti or bucatini
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Good olive oil, and lots of it
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 or 3 good sized cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tuna packed in olive oil, not drained
  • A couple of generous handfuls of spinach leaves, stems pulled off
  • Juice of ½lemon, Meyer if possible
  • Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • A good Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Heat a large pot of generously salted water (it should taste like the ocean).
  2. Set a timer for 3 minutes less than the recommended pasta cook time, then drop the pasta into the water and begin making the sauce.
  3. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, and heat 5 oz of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the halved tomatoes. As the tomatoes begin to soften, add the garlic. When it’s very fragrant, add the tuna and its oil. Break up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Turn down the heat to a good simmer.
  4. Once pasta is done, use tongs to lift directly into the skillet. Dip out a couple of good ladles of pasta water and add to the skillet. Move everything around and together with your tongs.
  5. Toss in the spinach and add the lemon juice. Move everything around until spinach is just wilted.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Grate some good cheese over the top.
  8. Serve with slices of focaccia or baguette so that not one drop of sauce is left behind.

Learn more about Dante:


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