I make these on a large electric T-Fal griddle so that I can make the whole family's meal at once. Instructions are given based on cooking in this manner, but these could easily be made on a grill or Panini grill as well. The pesto recipe is a little thicker than I normally make it to prevent the oil inthe pesto from saturating the bread before the sandwich is done. Cook and prep time include time for making pesto and marinade, but do not include the time needed to marinate the chicken, so plan ahead! You'll be glad you did! :)
**We really like this sandwich, but not the Nutritional Facts! If you would like to lighten it up a bit, instuctions are at the bottom of the page......you could also omit the chicken and do all veggies if you want (but the chicken is delish).
Chicken Pesto Grilled Sandwiches/Paninis-Original & Lighter
2 1/2 cups spinach leaves, fresh
1 cup asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves, large, peeled and cut in half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pesto sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt, opt.
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb skinless chicken breast halves, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch s thick strips
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut (or roasted red peppers)
1/2 cup water1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 loaf Italian bread10 ounces gouda cheese, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter, divided
For pesto, combine first six ingredients in a food processor.
Process until finely chopped; gradually pour in olive oil and process until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.For chicken marinade, combine all marinade ingredients (using 1/4 cup of the pesto you just made and reserving remaining pesto for later use).
Place marinade and chicken in a bowl or zip-top plastic bag. Make sure chicken is thoroughly covered; refrigerate 6-8 hours. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
In a nonstick skillet, cook chicken in 2 Tablespoons oil over med-high heat, about 5 - 7 minutes. Remove chicken and divide into 6 equal portions; set aside. Drain tomatoes. In same skillet that you cooked the chicken in, saute mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in remaining 2 tablespoons oil until mushrooms are tender and liquid is absorbed; divide into 6 equal portions; set aside.
Separate thinly sliced Gouda into 6 equal portions. Cut 12 slices, 1/2" thick, from Italian bread loaf.For each sandwich, do the following:. On one slice of bread, layer chicken strips, mushroon/tomato mixture, and then Gouda slices. Place remaining bread slice, pesto side down on top of cheese. Spread approximately 1 teaspoon butter on top bread slice. Place, buttered side down, on preheated griddle or grill. With a spatula, press down on the sandwich - just to kind of "smoosh" it together, and while it is cooking, spread approximately 1 teaspoon butter on top slice of bread. Grill approximately 5 minutes, flip and grill approximately 3-5 minutes more or until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown and crispy.Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
For pesto sauce, substitute 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth for the olive oil and omit the salt (if using low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, you may not want to omit the salt) and reduce pine nuts to 1/3 cup or omit altogether (if you want to go even lighter).Proceed with recipe as instructed.Reduce Gouda to 6-8 ounces (depending on your preference for cheesiness), thinly slice and proceed with recipe instructions.Omit the butter that is spread on top of the bread before grilling and instead use a lighter spread - I use Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread w/ Flax, or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray (No fat or calories in this one).Depending on which and how many of the suggested changes you make, you could cut the fat and calories significantly and still have a tasty panini. :).