product review. [bell pepper & onion crostini w. pesto]

August 29th, 2011 by | comments

I was recently approached by Swanson Health Products to write a review on some of the company’s products, which range from oils to spices to supplements. Swanson sells high-quality, reasonably priced and primarily organic products.

I reviewed BIJA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Swanson EFAs 100% Natural Macadamia Nut Oil and Swanson Organic Poultry Spice Blend (Swanson sent the products free of charge).

We celebrated my roommate’s sister’s birthday over the weekend with appetizers, drinks and dinner at our apartment. The menu: this bell pepper and onion crostini with pesto, caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, orzo salad with garbanzo beans, tri-tip, apple and gouda chicken sausage and peanut butter blondies for dessert.

I used the BIJA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for the crostini, and was pleasantly surprised by its depth of flavor. The oil is rich and smooth, with a beautiful dark green hue. (I’ll feature the macadamia nut oil and poultry spice blend in a separate post).

The crostini was a hit and not a crumb was left on the plate. I will definitely make these again soon.

Are you interested in getting some free Swanson Health Products goodies to review on your own blog? Then check out the Swanson Health Blog for all the details.

Crostini recipe:

1 (18- to 22-inch-long) baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

BIJA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, to spread on toasts


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put baguette slices on 2 large baking sheets, then brush tops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Peppers and onions recipe:

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

2 orange bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

1 large red onion, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. BIJA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbsp. red-wine vinegar


Put two gas burners on medium heat, then place one bell pepper on top of each open flame. Using tongs with a long handle, frequently rotate peppers on the burners, until skins blister and blacken.

Remove both peppers from the heat, then repeat with next two peppers. Place all peppers in a glass bowl. Cover the bowl with Saran wrap and let the peppers sweat for 30-45 minutes. This makes peeling the skin much easier.

Once peppers have set, remove both from the bowl and peel off the skin. Slice peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Photos of process here.

Cook bell peppers, onions, and garlic with salt in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Cover pot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and just starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes more. Stir in vinegar and remove from heat.

Pesto recipe:

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan

2 tsp. garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/3 cup BIJA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus more to reach desired consistency

Pulse all pesto ingredients except oil in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream and blend until combined well. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, then stir in extra parmesan cheese if mixture isn’t thick enough.

Assemble crostini:
Put about 1 tbsp. pesto on each toast then top with pepper and onion mixture.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

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