Celebrate pesto’s premiere
Try Classic Basil Pesto, Parsley Mint Pistachio Pesto, or whip up an Italian spin on Eggs Benedict
Back in 1946, when authentic Italian food was still exotic in this country, Sunset ran its first recipe for pesto, the traditional Genoese sauce of basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
This was remarkable, given that the era was best known for the introduction of Betty Crocker Cake Mix (1947) and frozen french fries (1948). Spaghetti was beginning to lose its foreign accent, but pesto was unknown to most, having received its first American mention just two years earlier in the New York Times. According to Lynne Olver, food historian and editor of the Food Timeline website, that item was a brief recommendation for a brand of imported canned pesto paste. So Sunset’s pesto recipe was likely the first in a major American publication.
For that bit of good fortune, we tip our hats to Angelo Pellegrini, the Tuscan-born English professor and Renaissance man whose writings on food, gardening, and living well (including his best-known book, The Unprejudiced Palate, first published in 1948 and still in print) made him one of the West’s most beloved food authorities. Sunset had a long relationship with Pellegrini, who lived in Seattle until his death in 1991, and it’s his pesto recipe that first graced our pages.