Aug 2
2010

Panini with Grilled Chicken, Summer Squash & Red Pepper-Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Panini with Grilled Chicken, Summer Squash & Red Pepper-Cilantro Pesto Recipe

When I first made this pesto to top a fillet of mahi mahi, I knew that it was destined to be reincarnated in another recipe. The roasted red peppers add a rich air of smokiness to the fresh taste of the cilantro and lime. At some point, this pesto will make an appearance with softly curdled eggs. In the meantime, I will be slathering it on every sandwich, grilled vegetable, and pizza that crosses my path. Nothing is safe. I am certain that I could dip a dill pickle into it or ladle it over ice cream and remain just as infatuated. It is that good, but I will stop there at the risk of sounding completely irrational.

This panini is made with crusty ciabatta rolls; I called for wheat ones in the recipe, but ones made with good old white flour will do. Layers of grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, and lightly grilled summer squash, along with a healthy dollop of my favorite sauce, round out the sandwich. If you do not own a panini maker, I provided an idea below to get around that, using a grill pan and a brick.

The pesto:
Place 2 chopped roasted red bell peppers in the bowl of a food processor. In my opinion, home-roasted peppers are far superior to the bottled kind. Here is a tutorial of how to roast your own peppers – it’s easier than you think. Add 3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice.


Pulse until combined. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Set the pesto aside.

The panini:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Season 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch slices, crosswise. Set aside.


Cut 1 small summer squash lengthwise into four 1/2-inch slices. Place in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Place on the grill and cook until tender, but not mushy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Cut 4 wheat ciabatta rolls in half horizontally. Spread each side of rolls with 1 tablespoons of the pesto (2 tablespoons per roll). Place 4 or 5 pieces of grilled chicken on each roll, top each with 2 or 3 slices fresh mozzarella and 1 piece of summer squash, and top with other half of the roll.


Place panini in a preheated panini maker or grill pan. If using a grill pan, use a brick (well washed and cover in foil) to place on top of the sandwiches to achieve the same effect as the panini maker. Cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is starting to melt. Cut in half and serve immediately.


More panini recipes with chicken and pesto:

Cookin’ Canuck’s Grilled Chicken, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Panini with Pesto Mayonnaise
Cookin’ Canuck’s Grilled Chicken & Spinach-Chive Pesto Panini
Closet Cooking’s Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Panini with Cilantro Pesto & Feta
Panini Happy’s Lemon-Herb Chicken & Spinach Panini
The Dabble’s Turkey, Smoked Mozzarella & Olive-Spinach Pesto Panini

Panini with Grilled Chicken, Summer Squash & Red Pepper-Cilantro Pesto

Pesto:
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (how to roast your own peppers)
3 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Panini:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small summer squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 wheat ciabatta rolls
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

The pesto:
Place roasted red bell peppers in the bowl of a food processor. Add slivered almonds, garlic, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, and lime juice. Pulse until combined. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set the pesto aside.

The panini:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Season chicken breasts liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch slices, crosswise. Set aside.

Cut summer squash lengthwise into four 1/2-inch slices. Place in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Place on the grill and cook until tender, but not mushy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Cut ciabatta rolls in half horizontally. Spread each side of rolls with 1 tablespoons of the pesto (2 tablespoons per roll). Place 4 or 5 pieces of grilled chicken on each roll, top each with 2 or 3 slices fresh mozzarella and 1 piece of summer squash, and top with other half of the roll.

Place panini in a preheated panini maker or grill pan. If using a grill pan, use a brick (well washed and cover in foil) to place on top of the sandwiches to achieve the same effect as the panini maker. Cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is starting to melt. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Makes 4 panini.

Printable recipe


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pegasuslegend August 2, 2010 at 7:32 am

Love all your panini's but this one really caught me eye on flavor cant wait to make it.. looks wonderful!

Reply

2 Barbara Bakes August 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I love your brick tip. The sandwich looks fabulous!

Reply

3 TheSweetOne August 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm

OMG. Now I need to go seed even MORE cilantro! I was hoping to have enough for salsa canning but if I keep getting distracted by things like this there won't be any left!

Reply

4 bellini valli August 2, 2010 at 1:15 pm

The pesto goes perfectly:D

Reply

5 Kalyn August 2, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Great photos in this post!

Reply

6 Emily Malloy (Ziegler) August 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Thought #1: The photos are GORGEOUS.
Thought #2: The recipe is fantastic!

Reply

7 Recipe for Delicious August 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Oh I could eat about three of those right now! What a great sandwich! If I had any counterspace left, I'd buy a cuisinart griddler in a heart beat.

Reply

8 Beverly Mills August 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Your pesto looks divine! I just posted about a classic basil pesto, but now I'm going to have to try yours!

Thanks!

Reply

9 Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking August 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

this is like my dream lunch!!! I love it!

Reply

10 JudyR August 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm

The pesto sounds delicious – can't wait to try it.

Reply

11 Debbie August 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

This looks so good, all those fresh made ingredients. You should open a panini shop…or food truck!

Reply

12 Jason Phelps August 3, 2010 at 1:05 am

Love the title photo. Waiting sandwhich in the background, longing to be enjoyed.

Jason

Reply

13 Cookin' Canuck August 3, 2010 at 4:16 am

Claudia, Bellini, Kalyn, Emily, Gaby, Judy – Thank you!

Barbara – The brick is a great substitute for a panini maker. It's what I did until about 6 months ago.

TheSweetOne – Salsa canning – now that's something I could really get into!

Recipe for Delicious – Try the brick. No additional counter space required.

Beverly – As much as I enjoy classic basil pesto, this is a really nice change and gives a completely different flavor to dishes.

Debbie – Thank you! I'll stick to my little panini maker at home – and ordering from the food trucks. We have a good one here in SLC.

Jason – Thank you. That waiting sandwich was quickly grilled and devoured after its photo shoot was over.

Reply

14 MaryMoh August 3, 2010 at 7:23 am

Beautiful photos & beautiful panini. I wish I can have that for lunch!

Reply

15 Belinda @zomppa August 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I'm of the love cilantro camp – and this is perfect!! The photo is beautiful.

Reply

16 Helene August 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I love anything with cilantro. I'll have to try your pesto recipe. Really nice pictures :)

Reply

17 Cookin' Canuck August 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Mary – Thank you.

Belinda & Helene – It seems that people either passionately love or hate cilantro. I am happy to be in the "love" camp.

Reply

18 Shriya August 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I am drooling here. Grilled chicken panini is my fav. Very tempting click.

Reply

19 Magic of Spice August 3, 2010 at 8:41 pm

That is just gorgeous, that is a killer pesto:)

Reply

20 marla {family fresh cooking} August 3, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Your red pepper cilantro pesto looks great. I was surprised to scroll down and see that red color. I bet the flavor is wonderful. Great giveaway too!

Reply

21 Drick August 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm

love a good pesto, who doesn't, and this one sounds great – so does the panini … will certainly infuse your red pepper pesto into many of my dishes, I see many things to come

Reply

22 The Manly Housewife August 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Ya know I just love a Panini press its one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. Nice recipe..

Reply

23 Jenny August 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Dara,
I've decided that if you opened up a cafe/restaurant, you would make a killing!! I LOVE every single one of your beautiful recipes :)

Reply

24 Maria August 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I can't wait to make the pesto! Panini's are a great summer meal too!

Reply

25 Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker August 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Oooh lovely sandwich! I love roasted red pepper flavor in paninis!

Reply

26 Tracy August 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I love panini in the summer and this one looks amazing! Yum!!

Reply

27 Fuji Mama August 5, 2010 at 2:24 am

This looks absolutely killer! I LOVE paninis, pesto, and roasted bell peppers…you've hit a fabulous trifecta here! I've actually been on a panini kick lately, ever since it occurred to me to pull out the George Foreman grill that had been sitting gathering dust in my garage and use it as a panini press. Duh, why didn't I think of that before? Can't wait to try this!

Reply

28 Maggy@ThreeManyCooks.com August 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Wow, that looks so delicious! Particularly love the red pepper pesto. YUM!

Reply

29 Raquel August 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm

You can never go wrong with roasted red peppers. And I personally have so much squash this summer I am looking for new ways to enjoy it.

Reply

30 Kevin August 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

What a flavour packed summer sandwich!

Reply

31 bed frame amish November 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

I would really prefer chicken other than any in my paninis! Very nice and delicious.

Reply

32 Julia June 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

My boyfriend and I made these this weekend – SO SO SO good. Thank you!!

Reply

33 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) June 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

Julia, thanks for letting me know. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: