This delicious Fresh Mozzarella Pesto Panini is the result of hubby and I wishing we were out for a little date night, but couldn’t find a sitter. 😉 So, after the kiddos finally gave up and crashed for the night I made some healthier “bar food” for us to nosh on. This paired with our favorite Southern Tier Pumpkin Beer was a great combo! They were so good we actually made them for lunch the next day too, no joke.
Wow – so it’s been awhile. I have been working on a major revamp of my boards on Pinterest. They were stressing me out a little bit (appeared majorly unorganized). I made all new board covers for them and I’m hoping that will help improve my followers experience as they puruse my Pinterest site. I felt like I needed to get my Pinterest “cleaned up” before I could post more yummy recipes to share. 😅
So – paninis often get a bad rep… right? Probably because they are often loaded with salty processed meats and multiple slices of cheese + maybe even french fries? 😩😩 (Probably what Kenny and I would have got had we found that sitter haha). So, yes when ordered at a restaurant they most likely are packing close to 1000 calories, add a side of fries and you’ve probably eaten your entire daily calorie allotment in one meal! Yikes!!
Solution to this problem… I totally forgot how delicious they are to make at home until I kind of stumbled upon my George Foreman while cleaning out my pantry. You can totally make a panini at home and have it be healthy at the same time. My Fresh Mozzarella Pesto Panini utilizes all fresh ingredients and are actually HEALTHY! Seriously… no joke! They even look like junk food! This is a game changer.
Recipes like my Fresh Mozzarella Pesto Panini are the types of “recipes” that we should be including in our diets when trying to eat healthier. Your taste buds still get the amazing party as they would have with their 1000+ calorie counterpart with probably half the calories. We cannot just eat plain chicken, steamed veggies, and rice and expect to not bail on the diet in a few days. DELICIOUS CAN BE HEALTHY TOO!
I chose fresh mozzarella because it’s one of the lower sodium, fat, and calorie cheeses that you can eat. Try part-skim if you are really wanting to slash the calories. Mozzarella contains about 85 calories and 6 g fat per ounce. Also keep in mind that mozzarella cheese is a great source of protein and will keep you satisfied longer than those french fries that might be on that restaurant panini. 😉
These Fresh Mozzarella Pesto Paninis came together in seriously 5 minutes (after you cook the chicken). I did cheat and had some store bought pesto on hand. I would love to make my own pesto but sometimes working full time and still trying to eat healthier you have to take a few shortcuts, and that’s ok! However, homemade pesto is a great way to use up that basil that you have an over abundance of in garden at end of the season.
Italian bread (buttered – i used a canola oil spread), pesto on once side, marinara on the other. Add the grilled chicken breast, top with a few slices of fresh mozzarella – grill in either a George Foreman or Panini Press/Sandwich Maker whatever you want.
I hope you enjoy these for a fun night in date night or game night. Such a simple easy recipe/concept. Have fun!
Fresh Mozzarella Pesto Paninis
A simplified and healthier version of your favorite “bar food”. Perfect for a night in with hubby or game night.
- 4 Slices Crusty Italian bread
- 2 Chicken breasts
- 4 Slices Fresh mozzarella
- 4 Tbsp Marinara sauce
- 2 Tbsp Pesto
- 2 Tbsp Butter I used canola butter spread
Cook your chicken breasts per your favorite method. I prefer grilling.
Preheat your George Foreman or Paninis press.
Spread butter on one side of all 4 slices of bread
Place two slices butter side down on Foreman. Spread with 1 tbsp pesto per slice. Top with chicken breast and 2 slices of fresh mozzarella. Top with the additional slice of bread spread with 2 tbsp marinara each.
Heat 3-5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Warm additional marinara for dipping if desired.