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Pesto Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Picnic Sandwich

Our beautiful and satisfying veggie-packed sandwich is the perfect centerpiece to your picnic spread! Mushrooms, asparagus and red bell peppers give the sandwich delicious depth and texture, while feta cheese and pesto lend each bite a rich creaminess. One heavenly bite and you’ll be smitten! Be sure to use whole grain bread to get additional nutrients.

Makes 4 servings. Total preparation time: 20 minutes.

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Marinate chicken breasts with lemon juice, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and set aside.

2. Line two baking sheets with foil. Slice bread lengthwise and core out the spongy bread filling. Place cored bread onto baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes until slightly toasted. Set aside.

3. On second baking sheet, place portabella mushrooms on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil or brush it on. Rub olive oil onto whole red bell peppers and place on baking sheet. Add asparagus and drizzle or brush with olive oil. Make sure vegetables are not touching so they roast evenly. If vegetables touch, they steam instead of roast. Soggy steamed vegetables will make your sandwich wet and soggy. If baking sheet is too crowded, roast vegetables on two different baking sheets. Roast mushrooms, bell peppers and asparagus for 15 minutes. Set portabella mushrooms and asparagus aside.

4. Tent red bell peppers inside foil for 5 minutes until cool enough to handle. Peel blistered skin off of bell peppers. (Skip this step if buying jarred roasted red bell peppers, and blot dry jarred bell peppers with paper towels to dry.)

5. In a medium skillet, brush with olive oil and heat to medium heat. Pan-sear chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side and set aside. Spoon pesto sauce on top of chicken to prevent meat from drying out.

6. To assemble sandwich: Spread pesto on one side of the cored bread. Spread goat cheese or sprinkle feta cheese on the bottom of the cored roasted bread. Lay roasted asparagus on the bottom, then lay chicken with pesto, top with roasted mushrooms and top with red bell peppers. Place the top of the bread over the last layer. Wrap bread with parchment paper and tie with string. Place bread loaf on cookie sheet and top bread with an additional cookie sheet and weigh it down with a heavy pot or iron skillet and store overnight in the fridge before packing on picnic. Slice equal portions of sandwich before serving at picnic. Make sure to pack a knife for the picnic!

Ingredients

1 large artisan loaf seeded and sprouted grain bread
2 Portabella mushrooms, sliced
2 red bell peppers, whole, or buy 8 oz. jar of Roasted Red Bell Peppers
1 pound asparagus spears
1 jar store-bought pesto, or try this Walnut Pesto
8 ounces feta or goat cheese
1/4 pound chicken breast cutlets, or 2 regular chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt to taste Parchment paper and string for sandwich wrapper

We realize that you may not always have the time to cook meals from scratch, and that a quick and easy substitution may be needed. We always recommend cooking the real thing, but in a pinch you can try this instead:

Buy pre-made pesto and fresh goat cheese. Slice up roasted chicken breast. Warm up frozen vegetables (available in the freezer section) such as roasted red bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette. Stack ingredients on toasted sprouted grain bread and enjoy!

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