Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pesto Is A Girl's Best Friend

I LOVE pesto! The store bought variety is so good, that I've never even bothered to make it homemade. What's not to love about basil, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts? Last summer I was staring at the inside of my refrigerator trying to figure out how I could turn a hodge podge of leftovers into something appetizing. I had a bit of focaccia bread leftover from an appetizer, sauteed mushrooms from a previous steak dinner, a half an onion, a grilled chicken breast and some shredded Italian blend cheese. As I was shuffling these items around, it was as though the light in the fridge was shining a spotlight on the pesto, and I had an epiphany. The result was one of the most fabulous sandwiches my husband and I had ever tasted. The best thing about this sandwich is that it is what I call a "dump dish" meaning that it's a great way to use up those random leftovers sitting in your fridge. Tonight I created the sandwiches from scratch using baby portabello mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with garlic salt, red wine and worcestershire sauce, sauteed red onions with red pepper, and grilled chicken marinated in Lawry's Herb and Garlic.

Grilled Chicken Pesto Paninis

2 chicken breasts, sliced or chopped
2-3 T prepared pesto
Sauteed mushrooms, onions and red pepper

Shredded cheese
Cooked bacon
1 flat loaf of foccacia bread, sliced horizontally

Above is my sandwich building station. Make sure and put the cheese directly on the bread to hold the sandwich together. Heat a skillet over medium, gently place the sandwich in the skillet, and press it down with another heavy skillet. Heat a few minutes on each side. Unfortunately I was distracted while heating one side of tonight's sandwich and slightly burnt it, so no pic of the final product, although I can assure you it tasted much better than it looked. I'd like to think maybe I was channeling Julia Child in one of her quirkier moments tonight.

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