I absolutely adore a wonderful sandwich that is jam packed with flavor. It can have a few ingredients or a million, as long as it tastes delicious. I often gravitate towards a grilled or toasted sandwich over the soft bread type sandwiches – although those have a place in my repertoire too. Probably my favorite staple sandwich is the classic grilled cheese. Growing up it was the one with those slices of American cheese that came in the wrappers – you know what I talking about. Smile. The cheese melted really well and oozed out as you ate the sandwich. As a grown up, my palate has refined a bit and my grilled cheese now is with jarlsburg, light rye and a bit of pepper jam inside. Still might sneak a childhood version now and then.
Have you heard the famous phrase – “Don’t forgetta the mezzetta”? When the wonderful folks at Mezzetta reached out to me to see if I wanted to have some of their wonderful products sent to me – there was no question in my mind – it was a resounding YES! Oh and they shared that they were also sponsoring a Make That Sandwich competition. AND they sent me several jars of their wonderful products to use. Love Mezzetta!!! The grand prize is $25,000 for the winning sandwich recipe – that made my eyes light up. I think I even see your eyes lighting up right now. Click here to learn more about how you can enter. My entry went in today and my fingers are crossed. Smile. Thought I would share my entry with all of you.
Going beyond my favorite grilled cheese, was my challenge to create a unique sandwich for the Mezzetta challenge along with meeting all of the criteria for the contest. I pondered ideas for weeks, until finally being ultimately inspired by the Italian bounty of ingredients at my fingertips. After contemplating how I would incorporate the ingredients sent to me by Mezzetta, it all came together a few days ago. The birth of “The Mezzetta Italian-Etta” was born. Hubby and I enjoyed it over the weekend. He especially loved the handmade pesto which added that extra punch of flavor to this delicious sandwich.
The Mezzetta Italian-Etta
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto:
1 Cup Pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves, lightly minced
1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme or ½ teaspoon dried Thyme
1/3 Cup Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 Tablespoons Mezzetta Sun Ripened Dried Tomatoes
1/3 Cup Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
1 teaspoon Mezzetta Crushed Garlic
¼ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper
½ teaspoon Mezzetta Hot Sauce
3 Boneless Chicken Breasts (average 6 to 8 ounces), slice each one in half lengthwise
1 loaf Ciabatta bread
Olive oil for brushing ciabatta bread
8 Slices Proscuitto
2 Cup Arugula, lightly packed
6 Fontina Cheese slices
1 Cup Mezzetta Roasted Bell Peppers, drained and patted dry
½ Cup Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Peperoncini, drained and lightly chopped
1 Cup Mezzetta Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained and lightly chopped
Prepare the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto by adding all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined. Can be made a few days ahead of time if desired and allows the flavors to develop.
Take each chicken breast and slice carefully in half lengthwise and place inside a large plastic freezer bay. Prepare the marinade by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl and mixing well. Add to the chicken in the freezer bag. Seal the top and lightly shake to distribute the marinade over all of the chicken. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Preheat a grill to medium to medium high. Slice the ciabatta loaf in half lengthwise and brush each side with the extra virgin olive oil. Place onto the grill for 3 to 6 minutes until grill marks appear. Turn often to prevent burning. Remove and let cool.
While the grill is still hot, add the chicken breasts. Cook for about 8 to 12 minutes or until fully cooked. Once you flip to cook the second side, add the fontina cheese slice to each chicken breast to begin melting.
In a large skillet, heat on medium high and add a touch of extra virgin olive oil to crisp and cook each slice of Proscuitto. You can cook 2 to 3 slices at a time. Be sure to flip once to provide even cooking. Should take a minute or less to cook each slice to crispy perfection. Let cool on a plate lined with paper towel.
To assemble the sandwich, spread the sun dried tomato pesto on each side of the ciabatta bread. On the bottom part of the loaf add the crispy Prosciutto slices, and then layer the chicken breasts. Next add the Arugula, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts and peperoncini. Add the top part of the ciabatta loaf and press the sandwich lightly together. Slice into four portions. You can then slice each one of those in half.