Homemade Pesto Chicken Panini
A couple weeks ago, we were making an early morning stop by a Starbucks to pick up a Pumpkin Spice Latte in preparation for developing our Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Bath Set.
It’s been YEARS since we’ve been at a Starbucks - I prefer Second Cup now that we’re in Canada, and my husband preferred Caribou when we were still in the USA.
So, we weren’t super up to date on what all they offered. I didn’t actually know that they had sandwiches, for instance.
Neither one of us had eaten at this point, so a photo of a panini chicken sandwich on the order sign outside caught BOTH our eyes at the same time.
We didn’t have a chance to see any information about it, as we drove off, so we just started speculating. We’d seen chicken, something green, and a streak of red.
We agreed that the green must have been pesto (wrong, it was chimichurri and spinach - I looked it up just now!), and the red was probably roasted red peppers (Close, it was roasted red pepper relish).
We agreed that such a sandwich probably had goat cheese (No, it was Havarti)... and that we needed it.
Of course, it wasn’t an option for me at that point, as I seriously doubt they had a gluten-free version.
Pesto Chicken Panini
We had chicken. We had basil. We had Goat cheese, and we even had a jar of roasted red pepper. We even had a loaf of bread for him - which is not always the case.
The only thing we were missing was some gluten-free bread for me, so we decided we’d be making a stop at Turtledoves Bakery that morning, and we would definitely be eating this deliciousness for lunch.
... and we did.
And then the next day.
... and the day after that, also. SO good.
Seriously, just look at these photos!
Can you tell which photos are of the gluten-free sandwich? Probably not, I barely can and I ATE one of them!
(Actually, it was the one without the visible grains. That’s the only real difference... aside from, you know, not being something that will make me sick, LOL!)
Use whatever bread you like, just try to avoid using anything super thick sliced. It works best with bread that’s normal to thin-ish sliced.
Now that we’ve made this pesto chicken panini a bunch of times, I have OPINIONS on the chicken used.
We’ve used boneless skinless chicken breasts each time. It works best when you use a small chicken breast, and pound it pretty flat and even.
Larger chicken breasts take forever to cook up, and - with everything else going on in this sandwich - just makes a mess and makes the sandwich difficult to eat.
Also, I’ve found that I prefer very simply seasoned chicken - just salt and pepper, MAYBE Seasoned Salt at the most - in this sandwich. I like how clean the flavours are, as-is, and don’t’ like messing with that balance too much!
Boneless skinless chicken thighs would also work.
Roasted Red Peppers
We used preserved roasted red peppers, right out of a jar, but homemade is also an option!
Just be sure to pat off any extra moisture from the pepper slices, or you’ll end up with a soggy sandwich.
We prefer plain goat cheese for this, for the same reason I like to go minimal with the seasoning on the chicken - I just don’t like extra busyness competing with the main flavours in this sandwich.
Well, “Pesto” Mayo.
We didn’t have pesto on hand, but we DID have a basil plant ... so I added the general flavours of pesto - Pesto, Garlic, and Parmesan (Well, sometimes Asiago!) into the mayo.
I like to use a Mini Food Processor when it comes to small amounts of something, like this. It makes quick work of it - just toss it all in and blitz to chop and combine!
In addition to the mini food processor to make the pesto mayonnaise super easy to bring together, you’re going to want something to turn the sandwich into a Panini.
Back when we were in the process of moving to Canada, and planning to live in an RV for a few months - without knowing how many months that would be - buying kitchen appliances for use in that situation was a HUGE THING.
One of the items we bought for the move was the Cuisinart 5 -in-1 Griddler. It was very compact, but had a lot of options.
We’d thought it would be great for “grilling” inside - in case it was rainy or whatever - but also for cooking breakfasts. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, whatever. The RV had a gas stove - I really don’t like cooking with gas - so it was a great little item to give me some other options.
... and now, it’s a panini press in our house!
We love it. I love that it’s small - our old indoor grill was really big and clunky. This is nice, compact, and MUCH easier to clean - all things that served us well in the RV.
I wasn’t sure if we’d end up keeping the cooking stuff we’d bought for life in the RV, but some things - like our Griddler - get a lot more use than others (The InstantPot) ever did. 100% recommend this.
ANYWAY... Enough about making them, you literally could have made one in the time it takes to read all this!
On to that Pesto Chicken Panini recipe!
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