The Ultimate Panini: Chicken Pesto Melt


So I went shopping at the outlets. I passed by Le Creuset, and I went in. Note: if it weren’t for the bright colors, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been enticed. A beautiful white Le Creuset grill pan, just like mine, was displayed beautifully in the center of the room. I quickly glanced to the right and spotted the accessory it does not need have, a grill pan cover to make paninis!

So voilà, my first panini with my new kitchen addition.

Chicken Pesto Panini

My inspiration came from the “Press for Flavor” section of Cooking Light. Check out the 7 inspiring combinations.

The Ultimate Panini: Chicken Pesto Melt


  • Pesto
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, washed
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1//4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Panini
  • 1 focaccia bread, halved horizontally lengthwise and quartered
  • 1lb chicken, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp of grapeseed or other high smoke point oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, in a shallow bowl
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour in a shallow bowl
  • 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs, mixed with generous amount of salt and pepper, in a shallow bowl
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion


  1. Heat some grapeseed oil or other types of high smoke point oil in the grill pan over medium high heat (leave grill panini cover on the pan to heat both). If you are using a panini grill, then preheat grill.
  2. Take the chicken pieces, dip them in egg, then flour, shake off excess, then lightly press them into the panko bowl to coat all pieces.
  3. Add chicken to pan and cook until fully cooked and they are no longer pink. Cut one open just to make sure. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. While the chicken cooks, prepare pesto. Toast pine nuts lightly and cool them. Using a food processor, pulse pine nuts and garlic together, then add basil leaves little by little until all is coarsely chopped. Add lemon juice, salt, oil, and cheese into the mixture and blend until well incorporated.
  5. Spread pesto over each of the eight slices of focaccia. Then, on four of the bottom slices, add onions, green bell peppers, and chicken. Take the bottom slices and put them in the hot grill pan, and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on each. Place the 4 top panini slices over each of the bottom slices and press the grill pan cover down. Exert force to flatten the paninis. Grill for 3 minutes on one side then carefully flip paninis to the other side for another 2 minutes.
  6. Slice each panini in half if you want and enjoy. If you have leftover pesto, serve it on the plate alongside the panini as extra dip.


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