Fair Tasty Temptations: Pasta Pesto

Fair Trade Pasta Pesto

What's on the summer menu?

We at Gent Fair Trade appreciate fair food and good company, so we thought, why not combine both?

For the next 3 months, we will be bringing you delicious, easy, quick recipes and above all, using fair trade products from Oxfam Gent Centrum to cook and eat with your loved ones!

We will share our recipes and tips on our socials and this will be your chance to try to go fair trade for the summer and show your cooking skills with us!

Pasta al pesto 3

We cooked a heartwarming plate of pasta pesto this week that hits all the right spots. The pesto we normally have is the pesto alla Genovese, with crushed garlic, basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts, typical from the Ligurian cuisine. According to tradition, in fact, the ingredients are pounded or ground in a marble mortar by means of a circular motion. Hence the name of the sauce, in fact from 'pestare' (meaning to smash), comes the past participle 'pesto'.

However, the recipe dates far to the Roman Empire, and there are texts along the years that describe how to prepare the precious green paste. Once again, we went to Oxfam to get all the necessary Italian ingredients. As we explained with the bruschetta recipe, the mafia suppose a structural problem in Italy, their power reaches big companies, bureaucracy and some city halls. Moreover, the control of the mafia over the agriculture of the country makes it sometimes difficult to know if the Italian product that we can buy was produced by these criminal organizations.

However, Oxfam wereldwinkels provides original Italian alimentary products that ensure their production far from the hands of the mafia. It is the case of the products that you can find in oxfam by the brand Libera Terra (freed land). For this week, we got some fresh pesto, short pasta called Caserecce (which means 'homemade') and again the exquisite sun dried tomatoes.

There are plenty of more options to try, we encourage you to discover it yourself!

To make the delicious pasta pesto you will need the following ingredients.

  • A package of Fair trade pasta of your choice
  • A can of Fair trade pesto
  • Mushrooms (to taste)
  • A can of Fair trade sundried tomatoes
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil
  • Parmigiano

The rest of the recipe is the same for any kind of traditional pasta, but if you need some guidance, here you are!

  • Put a liter of water to boil in a pot.

  • When it is boiling, add the salt and the pasta.

  • Let it boil following the package instructions.

The ideal cooking time is 'al dente', which means 'to the tooth', because the pasta will be pretty firm to the bite and not completely soft and limp.

Preparation pasta al pesto
Preparation pasta al pesto 2
  • In the meanwhile, cut the onion, the garlic and the mushrooms.

  • Heat some oil in a pan, and when it is warm put the onion.

  • When the onion starts to be transparent, throw the garlic and then the mushrooms.

Preparation pasta al pesto 3
Preparation pasta al pesto 4
  • Open the sundried tomatoes, if you like you can use the oil in the pan with the rest of the ingredients for extra flavour but you can also drain the tomatoes for a lighter version.

  • When the pasta is ready, put some of the water aside and drain the pasta.

This is a very important step as the cooking water is rich in starch, which will help us incorporate our ingredients. A 'mantecatura' done well will leave a delicious sauce and a firm, creamy pasta (ideal for 'scarpetta' at the end of a meal).

  • Put the pasta with the rest of the mixture, add the water and the pesto. For this step you don't need heat anymore, the heat of the pan and the cooking water will be sufficient.

Pasta al pesto 5
Pasta al pesto 1
  • Move a bit and you are ready!

  • Put some parmigiano to finish it.

  • Buon appetito!


  • You can add the cheese to the pesto sauce and the pasta water for a creamier result!

  • The toppings we selected were just and only about personal taste, but don't hesitate to add anything that makes you happy.

  • If you have fresh local ingredients, the best pesto is the one you prepare yourself.

  • This recipe is vegetarian but can easily be adapted for vegans, in fact there are many vegan pestos around and of course, if you make it yourself at home the problem does not arise!

  • You can also use Pecorino cheese instead of Parmigiano.

  • Pesto is a generic term for anything made by pounding; this is why the word is used for various pestos (pistachio pesto, tomato pesto, pepper pesto, rocket pesto, etc.)

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Did you like the recipe? Did we make your mouth water? Now you try it, cook your pasta pesto and share the results with us on social media!

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