Chicken Pesto Panini

Mmm…Chicken Pesto Panini.

I’ve had this idea in my head for about 3 weeks but I had to wait for the right time to work it into the menu. Underneath all that healthy iron/calcium rich spinach is a piece of chicken and some pesto. Delightful!

Interesting cooking thought before we get started: Isn’t it crazy how certain flavors just go together? In my own cooking, I have never paired pesto with red onion but I just knew they went together. Sure enough, a bite of the spicy onion with the rich smooth pesto combines beautifully so that it literally melts in your mouth. YUMSKIES!

Ingredients (Serves 1 guy and 3 girls for a normal human being or Jake and me plus lunch time leftovers for one)

1 T olive oil/butter

2 chicken breasts, patted dry

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh parmesan cheese

2 T pesto, homemade or from the store

4-6 slices bread, I used Dave’s Killer cause it’s healthy and I didn’t want to go to the store but ciabatta would be really good too

1 cup spinach

3-5 slices red onion

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat a cast iron saute/grill pan or whatever you have on hand at medium high heat.

3. Add olive oil/butter, I used a combination to increase the smoking point. (My cast iron smokes our place out and causes the fire alarm to go off if I don’t have the fan on high, AC on, slider door open, and towel at the ready to wave at smoke detector.)

4. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, flatten or fillet as desired to shorten cooking time, then sprinkle both sides of each piece with salt and freshly ground pepper.

5. Brown chicken on both sides in pan. About 4-5 minutes per side. You want your pan super hot so the chicken gets a nice sear.

6. Finish cooking in the oven for about 5-7 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. A cast iron pan can go right into the oven which saves on dishes! Be careful, it’s EXTREMELY hot and heavy so use 2 hot pad covered hands.

7. When chicken is cooked through, top with a layer of shaved parmesan then wrap in foil to trap juices on a separate plate. Leave pan juices for the next step.

8. Using the same pan with which you cooked the chicken or a panini maker if you have one, brown the inside of your bread. Flip bread slices over then top with pesto, chicken, spinach, and red onion until both sides of the bread have browned and everything is warmed through.

9. Slice in half or serve whole with a side of veggies!

Notes:

*Pesto is delicious home made and very simple but often costly. Use whatever brand/flavor combo you like! I used Kirkland cause it’s delightful and inexpensive.

*My sandwich was open-faced cause girl’s gotta work for this bod.

*You could make this spicy by adding crushed red pepper to the top of your pesto. I thought about doing this but forgot cause I was doing too many things at once and didn’t take the pepper out to remind myself.

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