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Chicken Panini with Pesto and Mozzarella

For another meal, make the sandwiches with your favorite chutney, extra-sharp cheddar cheese and thinly sliced green apple instead of the pesto, mozzarella and red peppers, and omit the arugula. This version is especially good on whole wheat bread.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. pesto, purchased
  • 4 slices crusty white sandwich bread
  • 5 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 thin slices
  • 1 small roasted red pepper in vinegar, halved
  • Breast meat of classic grilled chicken (see related recipe at left), cut into 6 slices (about 5 oz. total)
  • 6 oz. arugula, stems removed
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:

Prepare the sandwiches
Spread the pesto on one side of the bread slices. For each sandwich, layer 2 mozzarella slices; half each of the roasted red pepper, chicken and arugula; and 2 more mozzarella slices.

Refrigerate the sandwiches
Spread the outside of the sandwiches with the butter. Put the sandwiches on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate until the butter is firm, about 20 minutes.

Cook the sandwiches
Preheat a ridged fry pan or grill pan over medium heat until hot. Place the sandwiches in the pan and weight down with a second fry pan. Cook until the undersides are golden, about 2 1/2 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over, weight them down again and cook until golden on the other side, about 2 1/2 minutes more. Alternatively, cook the sandwiches using an electric panini press according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board, cut in half and serve immediately. Serves 2.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Grilling, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2007).