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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.

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).