This delicious and easy-to-make Chicken Panini Sandwich recipe and photo were shared with
my by Karen Calanchini, Food Stylist and Photographer, of Redding, CA.
Karen says, "This Panini is full of lively flavors. If you make your own basil pesto, it is a cinch to put together. It is excellent served with
Shasta Macaroni Salad."
Italian Grilled Chicken and Pesto Panini
Yields: 2 sandwiches
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Italian Salad Dressing, make your own or use a good prepared brand
McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning*
1 whole red or orange bell pepper, skin blackened and removed (see directions below)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil and Italian Seasonings)
3 tablespoons prepared
1 tablespoon extra-virgin
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed
1 teaspoon coarse sea
Freshly ground black
1/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise
Slices of English cheddar or regular cheddar cheese
4 slices of a hearty, whole grain bread with seeds sandwich bread
* Available at most supermarkets.
** I make and have my own
Basil Pesto with Pistachio Nuts and keep it
frozen in my freezer. It is the usual basil pesto, but instead of pine nuts,
I used pistachio nuts and added fresh lemon juice. Play around with your homemade pesto as it is really fun to come up with
unusual flavor combinations and adds a nice twist to sandwiches or pastas.
Marinate chicken breasts, in a re-sealable plastic bag in Italian Dressing
overnight or all day. When ready to cook, remove from marinade, draining well,
place on paper towels, and sprinkle on both sides with the Grill Mates seasoning.
Roast the bell peppers (see below).
Roasting Bell Peppers:
Turn the oven heat to High (in the broiler mode). Rinse and completely dry the bell peppers. Cut the peppers in
half and remove the stem, veins, and seeds.
Place the peppers on a boiler pan and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Broil
approximately 5 to 7 minutes, rotating the peppers as the flesh
closest to the heat blackens and blisters. Remove each pepper
from the oven when it has blackened completely.
Place the blackened peppers in a paper bag and close; allow to
steam approximately 15 to 20 minutes. After 15 to 20 minutes,
scrape or rub the skin off and discard the blackened skin (the charred skins should peel
off effortlessly). Cut into slices.
Prepare your charcoal or gas grill for cooking. Brush the grill with olive oil.
Place prepared chicken breasts onto hot grill. Cover barbecue with lid,
open any vents, and cook approximately 6 minutes per side or until a
meat thermometer registers an
internal temperature of 165 degrees F (juices will run clear when cut with the tip of a knife); turning several times during barbecuing.
Do not overcook the chicken; you want it to remain moist. Remove to cutting board and slice.
Meanwhile, in a blender or small food processor, puree sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Combine about 3
tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato/pesto mixture with the mayonnaise and mix well; set aside.
Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, you may have some
chicken slices left over along with the sun-dried pesto mixture. Enjoy for lunch the next day.
Preheat your Panini Grill.
The panino or Italian sandwich (the plural of panino is 'panini' which is often mistakenly used to refer to a single sandwich or panino). The difference between
a panino and a regular sandwich, is that it is grilled with ridges and the sandwich ingredients melt or fuse together, giving a delicious flavor to any
combination of foods. Check out What's Cooking America's online store to
view and perhaps purchase a Panini Grill.
Spread generous amounts of the pesto/mayonnaise mixture on all slices of bread. Arrange
chicken slices on two slices of bread, then add the cheese, and then the
roasted bell pepper slices. Top with second slice of bread and place on your
preheated Panini maker. Close lid and grill until the cheese is melted and
beginning to ooze out of the bread. NOTE: The bread should have nice grill marks.
Transfer bread to a cutting board and using a bread knife, slice the two
sandwiches in half.
Makes 2 sandwiches.