Chicken Havarti & Pesto Panini

turkey havarti and pesto mayo panini

Tonight was just a sandwich kind of night in our house.  Talk about some truly easy cooking.  The sandwiches of my childhood were nothing to boast about, but let me reassure you that sandwiches don’t have to be just boring meat and cheese on bread with some iceberg lettuce if you are lucky.  There are so many variables you can come up with when building the perfect sandwich, but the constants need to be a good quality bread and fillings with flavor.

This sandwich doesn’t fail the test, either.  I used a nice cibatta bread, warmed in the oven then sliced.  I also made some fresh pesto mayonnaise — super easy, especially if you are using jarred pesto, but even better if you make your own.  I chose a nice, creamy havarti cheese to compliment the bold flavor of the pesto and picked up some roasted chicken lunch meat today at the store, which is pretty mellow and can take the garlic-basil-pinenut blend like a fresh canvas takes paint.  Put it all together and press it down while grilling and you almost have perfection!  Almost because the only thing that would have made this taste better would have been some chopped sun dried tomatoes added to the pesto mayo.  A girl can dream, right?

What you need to make this sandwich, too:

A fresh loaf of cibatta bread, sliced in half length-wise, then cut into large, sandwich sized pieces (about 3 inches wide).

Fresh slices of roasted chicken or roasted chicken lunch meat — enough to cover your sandwich in a delicious layer

havarti cheese slices from your deli (enough to cover both halves of your sandwich bread…about two slices per sandwich you make)

1 Tbs of basil pesto

1 Tbs of good mayonnaise (full fat baby!)

1 tsp or so of fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp of salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

butter for your skillet


Mix your pesto, mayo, salt, pepper, and lemon juice together.  I’m drooling just thinking about this mayo, it is so good.

Heat a medium-sized skillet or grill pan over medium/medium low heat and melt a small amount of butter on it.

While your skillet is heating, add cheese to both of the inner sides of your bread.  Spread your pesto mayo on top of the cheese on both halves.  Don’t skimp on the mayo.  It makes the sandwich what it is!  Layer your chicken on next, then close your sandwich up and add it to the hot pan.

If you have a panini press, put it on top of your sandwich.  If you are like me and don’t have one, just throw a heavy bottomed sauce pan on top of your sandwich to help weigh it down a bit.

Grill your sandwich for a few minutes, then turn it over and press it down.  Grill this side for  a couple more minutes, then take your sandwich out.  Slice it in half on the diagonal and enjoy with a green salad.

If you can, add those chopped sun dried tomatoes to the mayo mixture and let me know what you think.  I have a feeling that the flavor meter will break from that one.



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