Celebrate pesto's premiere

Try Classic Basil Pesto, Parsley Mint Pistachio Pesto, or whip up an Italian spin on Eggs Benedict

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Long after Sunset embraced pesto, the sauce was still unknown to most American cooks. "Fresh basil was not to be seen in the markets until the 1970s," says Jerry Anne Di Vecchio, who served as Sunset's food editor from 1980 to 2001. "That's when pesto finally came into its own." In the 1980s and 1990s, the sauce became a favorite of chefs and home cooks. We began to get creative, experimenting with different herb-and-nut combinations, as in our parsley mint pistachio pesto recipe from March 1999.

Our final recipe is a pesto dish for the ages, an August 1983 contribution from reader Frank Darlington of Seattle. Baked polenta squares are topped with crispy prosciutto, poached eggs, and pesto sauce. It's an Italian spin on eggs Benedict, which explains the name: uova Benedetto.

Classic Basil Pesto (1959)
Catering to modern tastes, we've reduced the ¾ cup olive oil in the original to a little more than ½ cup. The flavors remain true.

Parsley Mint Pistachio Pesto (1999)
A fresh variation from readers Krista Painter and Amy French, friends who first met in cooking school. According to the recipe notes, "On weekly trips to Pike Place Market, they gathered fresh ingredients for their experiments. One outcome is this rich, green pesto."

Uova Benedetto (Poached Eggs on Polenta with Pesto and Crisp Prosciutto; 1983)
We loved the headnote to the original recipe, which read, "Here is Benedict's robust Italian cousin ... a sort of Chico Marx, raffish and resourceful, with neckcloth, short jacket, and elfish hat."

Plant a pot of pesto »

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