Dinners, Sandwiches

Recipe—Chicken Pesto Panini

I am on a total pesto kick after making my own. Just love the stuff! Especially when I can use it on one of my favorite paninis made with chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, and of course some delicious pesto. The flavors of this sandwich all go together so perfectly! It’s crunchy, melty, flavorful goodness all in one simple sandwich. Make it for lunch or dinner and serve with an Italian green salad for one heck of an awesome meal.

Note: The recipe calls for grilled chicken breasts but you can also just go pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store to save some time.

INGREDIENTS
4 large slices sourdough bread
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/3 c pesto
1 tomato, sliced
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
6–8 slices fresh mozzarella (I recommend getting the good stuff from the deli)

STEPS

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Spread one side of each piece of the bread with butter and spread the opposite sides with pesto.
  • Place two of the slices of bread butter side down in the skillet.
  • Top the bread in the pan with the tomatoes, chicken, and mozzarella.
  • Add the last two slices of bread to the top of the sandwiches, butter side out.
  • Cook for approximately 3 minutes or until the bread is a toasty brown.
  • Flip and cook for another 3 minutes until cheese is melted and the other side is a nice toasty brown.
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Dinners

Recipe—Ratatouille Lasagna

My last recipe post was for very fabulous ratatouille. Well if you are like me you probably had leftovers. The leftovers can be used for a whole plethora of things but my favorite has to be lasagna. I love the big hearty pieces of vegetables cooked together with Italian sausage and some rich cheeses. This ended up being the best lasagna I have ever had! You can make one large lasagna in a 9” x 13” baking dish or two small ones in 8” x 8” dishes. I opted to make 2 so that I could freeze one for another night. That means I get to enjoy this delish dish twice! Oh lucky me! Gotta love this French meal turned Italian.

Note: When I make lasagna I like to double up the noodles on the top and bottom layers. I feel like it helps hold it together better for ease of serving. This requires that you cook one and a half boxes of noodles since just one isn’t enough for this method. If you don’t want to double up then one box is completely adequate.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb Italian sausage
15 oz can tomato sauce
4 c leftover ratatouille
1 1/2 boxes wavy lasagna noodles
15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/4 c fresh basil chopped
salt and pepper
4 c mozzarella, shredded

STEPS

  • In a large skillet brown your sausage and drain off any excess grease.
  • Add tomato sauce and ratatouille to skillet and warm through over medium heat.
  • While the ratatouille is heating through cook your lasagna noodles according to the package instructions, drain, and separate.
  • In a small bowl combine the ricotta, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Prepare a 9” x 13” baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  • Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of the cooked noodles and then place a second layer of the cooked noodles on top of that going the opposite direction.
  • Spoon in about 1/3 of your ratatouille sauce over your lasagna noodles and spread evenly.
  • Top sauce with half the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a handful of the mozzarella over the top of the ricotta.
  • Place a single layer of noodles over the ricotta and spoon in about 1/3 of your ratatouille sauce over your lasagna noodles and spread evenly.
  • Top sauce with half the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a handful of the mozzarella over the top of the ricotta.
  • Top the lasagna with cooked noodles and place a second layer of the cooked noodles on top of that going the opposite direction.
  • Spoon remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the top is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Italian Stuffed Zucchini a.k.a. Zucchini Boats

With summer quickly approaching farmer’s markets will start popping up, gardens will be getting planted, and the produce department at your store will be full of fresh goods. It seems as though every summer zucchini is plentiful and I am getting lots of the delicious green squash from family and friends. I have found so many ways to creatively cook zucchini and this is one of my favorites. It is a great side dish to accompany your favorite Italian dish, especially chicken parmigiana or a big bowl of spaghetti.

INGREDIENTS
3 large zucchini
1/4 c yellow onions, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c fresh tomatoes finely chopped or canned petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 c Italian breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, divided

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add entire zucchini.
  • Cook the zucchini for 8–10 minutes and remove from water.
  • While the zucchini cools, sauté the onion and garlic in butter until tender.
  • Add tomatoes to the pan and heat through.
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out centers of the zucchini. (I find a melon baller works wonders for this!)
  • Chop the pulp and squeeze out excess water.
  • Add zucchini pulp to the pan and mix.
  • Mix in breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Stuff the zucchini “boats” and place in a baking dish.
  • Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
  • Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 minutes.