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Pesto perks up chicken sandwiches

Thursday, November 30, 2000

Tested by Rebecca Sodergren

Are you finally done eating turkey leftovers? If so, then you can move back to the more standard chicken but add a tasty twist with today's Countdown feature, Pesto Parmesan Chicken Sandwiches.

Jennifer Braim of Wexford once made Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup from a recipe in the Post-Gazette Food section. That soup came to mind last summer when she had a ton of leftover pesto on hand and wanted to use it on something other than pasta.

"The tomato-basil-Parmesan combination is so good that I thought, 'Why not try it on a sandwich?' " she said.

So she broke out some rolls and boneless chicken breasts, and the result is today's recipe.

Jennifer and husband Jim, an audit manager for Arthur Andersen, have a 9-month-old daughter, Sara. Jennifer stays home with her daughter. Besides cooking, she enjoys doing crafts, including cross-stitching and drying and pressing flowers.

When Jennifer makes these sandwiches, she uses either fresh or frozen homemade pesto. We didn't have any, so we used some from a jar in the grocery store. The result was yummy enough to persuade us to make homemade pesto when basil comes back to the city farmers' markets next spring.

Pesto Parmesan Chicken Sandwiches

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (see note)
About 1/4 cup prepared pesto
4 thick slices of tomato
About 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 sandwich buns

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and top each one with 2 teaspoons pesto (or more if desired). Cook about 7 minutes and then flip over. Add about 2 more teaspoons of pesto to each breast and cook until done, about 5 to 7 more minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, or more if you like, to each breast and let it melt. Put the chicken on a bun and top with a slice of tomato. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Tester's note: If you prefer leaner sandwiches, use two boneless chicken breast halves, pound them flat and cut them in half again to make four sandwiches. They won't need to cook quite as long.

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