Pesto sauce, generally comprising basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, grated hard cheese and salt, originated in Genoa of Northern Italy, but no mention appears in the United States until 1944, when the New York Times reported an imported, canned pesto paste . Soon after, a recipe appeared in Sunset Magazine in 1946, contributed by Angelo Pellegrini. But the sauce did not gain popularity in the United States until the 1980s and 1990s, partly because fresh basil was not sold here until the 1970s. For a time, a mini pesto fever took hold with chefs and home cooks prolifically turning out recipe after recipe, varying the proportions of olive oil, cheese and basil and even changing the herb and nut combinations to such concoctions as parsley and/or mint with pistachios.
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