A perfect sandwich for any time of day! Crispy ciabatta roll slathered in my homemade pesto and with a marinated pesto chicken breast to match! Add in some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella and we have ourselves a winner!
Years ago, I used to run a huge upscale cafeteria that serviced over 3000 people a day. It was my job to make sure the food was always fresh and delicious and the guests walked out with a smile on their faces. One of my employees, Teresa, ran the deli station and her sammys always left everyone smiling, including me.
I would stand by Teresa at the ungodly early hour of 6am and help her prep on the days when we were short handed. I watched her whip up spreads, sandwiches and even roast off her own turkey and chicken breasts for the sandwich station. She amazed me. Everything this woman’s hands touched was perfection.
Her pasta salads were always perfectly dressed. Her potatoes for her potato salads were always cooked to the right texture. Her flavors were on point and her smile was always present. Standing by her, I learned the science of making a perfect sandwich.
She taught me that no matter how good your meat was, your bread had to be fresh. Your spreads have to be seasoned right. And the veggies have to be crispy and fresh.
One day, I was standing by her, chopping up potatoes for her perfect potato salad when I saw her mixing up a green concoction in her food processor. She handed me a spoon and said, “aqui Mila, prueba esto” we spoke exclusively Spanish to each other (sometimes mine was a little broken, but Teresa always understood me). And with this remark she gave me a taste of her green spread, which just so happened to be an awesome pesto. She shmeared it onto some chicken breasts and said, it needs to marinade.
And while Teresa let it marinade, I sliced up the tomatoes, the fresh mozzarella and the fresh ciabattas. After a few hours, she placed the chicken breasts into the oven and 15 minutes later out came the green little succulent beauties. The chicken was perfectly flavored by the pesto and it was cooked to perfection. I took one bite and was instantly in love.
Teresa sliced up the chicken breasts into large flat pieces and toasted up the ciabatta bread for me under the broiler. “Es para ti Mila, pruebalo,” it’s for you Mila, try it, Teresa said handing me a gigantic sandwich. I looked at it from all sides, as the pesto dripped onto my finger and wondered how I would get my mouth around this one. I smooshed it and took a bite. Teresa watched me and when she heard me let out a loud, “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm” she smiled and said, “de nada, Mila,” you are welcome, Mila.
This sandwich embodies all the elements that it takes to make a perfect sandwich. Crispy fresh bread, a garlicy spread, succulent chicken and fresh veggies. I make this for my hubby whenever I find freshly baked ciabattas at the store. I particularly like serving them on lazy Sundays for a late lunch while he is snuggled up on the coach with his XBOX remote, killing bad guys or what not. He always stops after taking a bite. He looks at the sandwich, lets out a sigh of deliciousness and carries on being the hero of war.
I used my really simple 5 minute basil pesto to marinade the chicken breasts and to slather on the ciabattas. I roasted the chicken breasts bone-in and with the skin. They end up a lot more succulent and flavorful. ***Make ahead tip: You can always roast up more chicken pieces to use in salads or pasta for the week.
- 1 recipe of my basil pesto
- 4 ciabatta buns toasted
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts
- 2 balls of fresh mozzarella
- 1 large beef steak tomato sliced
- Kosher pickles as the perfect side dish.
- Preheat oven to 450-degrees
- Slather pesto sauce onto the chicken breasts, making sure to get under the skin.
- Let stand for at least an hour. You can also do this the night before.
- Slice up tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Roast chicken for 18 minutes or until juices run clear. Let cool.
- Remove the chicken off of the bone and remove the skin.
- Slice chicken breasts against the grain in large, flat pieces.
- Toast up the ciabatta under the broiler quickly so they are nice and crisp. Slice them in half so there is a top and a bottom.
- Smear pesto liberally onto the top and bottom pieces of bread.
- Place chicken down first, then mozzarella and finally tomato slices.
- Smoosh sandwich, bite and smile.
- This sandwich can also be made pannini style if so desired.