Lightened Up Pesto (on Chicken Mozzarella Panini Sandwiches)

Tonight’s dinner? Holeeeeee…


I’d been thinking of tonight’s meal ever since last night when Jay and I actually made a half-assed attempt at a meal plan for the week. Yeah, we’ll see how that pans out…but for now, we’ve already got one solid meal in the books!

I knew I wanted to use some of the bread that I picked up from the Farmers Market on Saturday, and I also wanted to use some of the fresh basil I have coming out of my garden (squeal!). Pair that with some chicken that we had in the fridge, a ball of fresh mozzarella, and some sundried tomatoes, and I had the beginnings of a killer panini.


Jay and I haven’t had panini sandwiches here since October, so I’d say we were  definitely long overdue!

While Jay cooked up the marinated chicken, I sliced the fresh mozzarella and whipped up a quick and delicious pesto, which we really need to talk about. The pesto was not only delicious, but it’s even lightened up quite a bit – only 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the whole batch. How’s that for a win-win?!? Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe!


Once our paninis were assembled, I brushed them with a little bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of seasonings, then placed them on the panini maker and let them do their thing. The end result? Incredible.


The mozzarella was gooey, the chicken was cooked to perfection, and the pesto was out of this world.


Jay and I may both have cuts on the roofs of our mouths, but we both agreed it was totally worth it.


We had some yummy corn on the cob along with our paninis and enjoyed them out on the patio amongst quite a few “oh my god these are so awesome” comments.


Definitely gotta have these again sometime soon…especially since I’ve got some more pesto leftover! Speaking of which…

Lightened Up Pesto


  • 1-1/2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese


Place basil leaves, olive oil, water, almonds, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add cottage cheese and parmesan cheese and process until smooth. Enjoy!


Give it a try – it’s awesome! Smile


  1. says

    I just bookmarked this post – mozzarella cheese, pesto, chicken & sun-dried tomato sandwiches are probably my favorite thing in the world. The bread you used looked perfect for a hearty sandwich like that :) delicous.
    Kailey recently posted..Recreating an Oldie

  2. says

    Oh my word! That pesto sounds so yummy. I’ve been wanting a good pesto recipe because my basil plant outside is growing like crazy. Thanks so much; I will try this tomorrow. Yum!

  3. Kari says

    I made these for my fiance and I last night – holy yum! These are SO delicious. Thanks for the great recipes, Courtney!

    • Courtney says

      I believe it was just a multigrain bread I picked up from a local bakery. I find that denser breads work much better for panini sandwiches! :)

    • Courtney says

      There actually really isn’t a recipe – we usually just let it marinate in a little Italian dressing for a while before grilling! :)


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