Okay, here me out; I realize this panini doesn’t look all that appetizing. When the balsamic vinegar mixes in with the pesto, it can become muddled and discolor the bread.
But don’t let that discourage you from trying this sandwich, because this caprese-inspired panini is delicious! A grilled chicken breast nestled in garlicky, basil-y pesto, complimented with a tart heirloom tomato and gooey fresh mozzerella. And the whole thing is drizzled in a tangy, sweet balsamic reduction. It’s an ode to everything we love about this Italian classic!
TIP: Try to use a crusty Italian bread. But if you can’t find any, French or Sourdough works great, too! Also, try to put your mozzarella next to one of the pieces of bread. The proximity to the heat will help it melt more efficiently.
TIP: You can make your own pesto with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil in the food processor. Or you can choose to use premade. We prefer the Kirkland Signature brand from Costco. It’s delicious and freezes beautifully to last even longer!
Pesto Chicken, Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomato, and Balsamic Panini
Crusty bread (preferably Italian bread)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled
Fresh mozzerella cheese, sliced into pieces
Heirloom tomato, sliced
Traditional basil pesto (homemade or jarred)
Butter, room temperature
First, make your balsamic reduction by simmering about 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat. Allow it to simmer until it reduces and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before using on your panini.
Preheat your skillet (or panini press) over medium heat.
Spread butter on the outsides of each piece of bread. Flip the bread over; spread pesto on the insides of each piece of bread.
Continue building your sandwich: sliced mozzarella, a drizzle of balsamic reduction, chicken breast, and tomato slices. Place the second piece of bread on top with the pesto on the inside and the butter on the outside.
If using a skillet:
Place the entire sandwich butter-side down in preheated skillet. Allow it to toast until the cheese is starting to get gooey and the bottom piece of bread is golden brown and crunchy. Carefully flip the sandwich over and toast the second piece of bread to golden brown, as well.
Once both sides are golden and crunchy and the cheese is melted, pull off the heat. Slice in half and serve immediately.
If using a panini press:
Once your panini press is fully preheated and ready, place the entire sandwich butter-side down and close the top. Allow it to toast until the cheese is starting to get gooey and both sides of bread are golden brown and crunchy. Watch it carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Once it’s finished, remove the sandwich from the panini press. Slice in half and serve immediately.