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One-Pan Caprese Chicken Panini

There’s really no story behind this sandwich. I made it up the other night. It was delicious. The end.

Ok, so I can’t really let it go with just that paltry explanation. It’s completely true that there’s no story behind this sandwich. We needed something for dinner. Unlike most weeks, I had not made a menu or shopping list at the beginning of the week, which usually means we eat weird stuff all week because I have no ingredients. This time, I happened to have grabbed a bag of frozen chicken breasts (when I meant to buy chicken tenders), and my husband had requested caprese salad the week before, so we had fresh mozzarella and a tomato hanging around. It all just kind of came together by magic. And it really was magical. Seriously, I was sort of oohing and aahing my way through the whole sandwich and ate the leftovers on my husband’s plate (he has braces, and they don’t work so well with hearty sandwiches, which ending up being fortunate for me)!

One-Pan Caprese Chicken Panini

olive oil
1 chicken breast
garlic powder
italian seasoning
enough bread for two people–I used whole wheat french bread because we had some that needed using, but anything fairly substantial should work; remember that it’ll be loaded up and panini-fied, so don’t choose something whimpy
fresh mozzarella
1 tomato
basil pesto
balsamic vinegar

Heat a nonstick grill pan (or just a regular nonstick skillet) over medium heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and add the chicken breast.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning, and saute until completely cooked through (turning as needed).  The time will completely depend on how big your chicken breast is; mine was enormous and took at least 10 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate or cutting board.  While the chicken is resting, cut your bread in half and place both halves cut-side-down on the grill pan (if you’re using already-sliced bread, you can skip the cutting part and just stick it in the pan).  Allow the bread to grill while you slice the mozzarella, tomato, and chicken.  Slice all three into 1/4″-1/2″slices.  Remove the bread from the pan.  Spread the grilled side of the bottom of your sandwich with a generous spoonful of pesto.  Remember that you are going to be squishing this, so don’t glop on too much.  On top of the pesto, add slices of chicken breast, then mozzarella, and end with tomato.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the tomato slices and drizzle balsamic vinegar on top.  Add the top piece of bread (grilled-side-down).  Place the whole sandwich in the pan, put something heavy and heat-proof on top (like the lid to a pot), and gently and steadily apply pressure.  Allow the sandwich to grill on one side for 3-5 minutes, then flip the sandwich over and repeat the pressing process.  You’ll know you’re done when the cheese starts to get melty and the bread is golden.  Remove from pan, cut in half, and share with a friend.  Or share with someone you want to become friends with; it’ll totally win them over!  Serves 2

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