Fresh Pesto and Grilled Chicken Sandwich

If you’re looking for a summer comfort food that leaves no guilt, this recipe is perfect

By JESSICA BUSH for the Flathead Beacon

The days are getting longer, birds are chirping, and the joys of summer are quickly approaching. If you’re looking for a summer comfort food that leaves no guilt, this recipe is perfect. The homemade pesto is a palate pleaser, and it’s relatively simple to make. I always encourage using fresh, locally grown herbs when available, and making pesto is a great way to use up an abundance of fresh basil.

Chicken Pesto Sandwich

• Fresh bun or bread

• Chicken breast, butterflied, covered with blackening seasoning of your choice and grilled

• Pesto (recipe below)

Optional Sandwich Trimmings

• Oven-roasted tomatoes

• Provolone cheese

• Spinach

• Tomato relish

I love a buttered and grilled bun for my sandwiches (fresh rolls from Ceres Bakery in Kalispell are great for this sandwich), but for a lighter meal, simply stuff your butterflied grilled chicken breast with pesto spread and trimmings.


• 3/4 lbs. basil

• 4 Tbsp. garlic

• 1 cup olive oil

• 1 1/2 cups parmesan

• 1/2 cup walnuts

• 2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree to a coarse paste.  If too dry, additional oil may be needed (drizzle into running food processor until desired consistency is reached).

This sandwich is great paired with a fresh garden salad topped with homemade dressing. Truly, almost anything can be used in a fresh salad dressing. I encourage you to be creative, and see what imaginative dressings you can come up with. If you’re not feeling like tapping into your creative side, here’s one of my favorite recipes for Dijon vinaigrette (which includes apple sauce as a hidden ingredient):

Dijon Vinaigrette

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1 small onion

• 1/4 c. cider vinegar

• 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce

• 2 Tbsp. water

• 2 Tbsp. canola oil

• 4 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.

Jessica is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College and is the Assistant Manager of Dining Services at FVCC.  For more information about The Culinary Institute of Montana, visit