Simple to make yet one of the most requested recipes in our home. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or when feeding a large crowd. Loaded with spicy arugula, creamy and salty fresh feta, homemade basil pesto, and grilled chicken thighs on a crisp baguette. Pesto Chicken Sandwiches are a summer favorite!
Pesto Sauce Recipe
Pesto sauce is a usual around our house, especially in the summer. It is great on everything from pasta to pizza and even dolloped on soup. In our home, we love it on these Pesto Chicken Sandwiches. Make sure and double the recipe so you can freeze your summer bounty and enJOY fresh pesto sauce year-round.
- 1 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 preserved lemon rind finely minced (optional) or zest from 1 organic lemon
- 4 garlic cloves -about 1 T chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigano-Romano cheese
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (stems removed)
- sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- Toast the pine nuts or walnuts in a dry cast iron pan until fragrant. This is optional, but it will intensify the flavor.
- Add the cooled pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest or minced preserved lemon peel to a food processor and process until well chopped.
- Add in the basil and pulse until combined.
- With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until combined. You want your pesto smooth but with texture, so pulsing until you get your preferred texture is better than just running your machine.
- Pulse in your grated parmessan until fully incorporated.
- Serve with pasta, over chicken, as a pizza sauce, alongside a toasted baggette, layered in lasagna, or spooned in a soup.... oh, the many ways to use pesto.
- Basil is plentiful in the summer months, consider making several batches to freeze and enJOY all year long.
Ingredients & Assembly
Pesto Chicken Sandwiches are so easy to prepare, that you don’t even need a recipe. It is just a matter of assembling all the fixn’s. First, I purchase individual ciabatta rolls at Costco or a baguette. Second, prepare the pesto. Third, gather arugula (spinach in a pinch), feta cheese, and sliced red onion (optional). Lastly, grill boneless and skinless chicken thighs seasoned with nothing more than salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill the chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side on a medium-high grill. This really is a simple sandwich, but one that is requested often in our home.
Spinach can be used in a pinch, but there is nothing like peppery arugula to kick this sandwich up to perfection. Also, it is important to get good feta. Already crumbled feta in the grocery case is flavorless and dry. You want to purchase your feta in brine so it is fresh and flavorful. I recommend an Israeli sheep milk feta from Trader Joe’s but if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, at least make sure the feta you purchase is in brine. Additionally, feel free to spice up your grilled chicken the way you like. The pesto sauce is the real star of this show so I let it take center stage.