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Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula Pesto

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula Pesto Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula PestoPhotos by Rikki Snyder

Not everyone is a fan of leftovers, but for me, it feels like a triumph to cook once and have dinner for two days. I win at meal planning! Take that, world! And then I do a little dance in my kitchen, waving my hands in the air like I just don’t care, thinking about all the things I’ll have time for now that I don’t have to make dinner. Things like watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and making up songs about my cats.

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula Pesto
I do get why some people have an aversion to leftovers, though. A lot of the time, things just aren’t quite as good the second time around. So this recipe is the perfect compromise for leftover lovers and leftover haters. It starts with a big batch of arugula pesto. Whip that up and use it to make Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches one night, and then the next night, use it to make a pasta dinner.

Let’s start with the sandwiches. You can grill them panini-style to make them gooey and melty and warm, or you can skip that part and eat them without heating. Arugula has a peppery, assertive flavor, so I like pairing it with a mild cheese like mozzarella and sweet roasted red peppers. And you have options here tooβ€”use jarred red peppers to save time or roast your own, it’s up to you.

Roasted Red Pepper and Arugula Pesto
You’ll have plenty of pesto left after making the sandwiches; just enough to toss with pasta the next day for another dinner. Add some sun-dried tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and toasted pine nuts to make it a meal. That’s a 15-minute dinner right there! Now go write some songs about your cats with all that free time you have.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula Pesto

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches with Arugula Pesto Recipe

Peppery arugula pesto is the perfect match for sweet roasted red pepper and mozzarella cheese. Serve these sandwiches hot or cold.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large loaf ciabatta bread, cut in quarters and then halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup Arugula Pesto
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 slices
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 500ΒΊF (broil).
  2. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Put the pepper on the baking sheet and broil until the skin is beginning to char, using tongs to turn occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and wrap the foil around the pepper (use oven mitts!). Let the pepper steam in the foil for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pepper from the foil and transfer it to a cutting board. Peel off the skin, cut off the stem, pull out the seeds, and discard them. Cut the rest of the pepper into thick strips.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto onto the bottoms of the ciabatta bread. Divide the pepper strips onto the bread, then place the mozzarella slices on top of the pepper strips. Top with the remaining slices of bread and brush the tops with olive oil. (If you’re going to serve the sandwiches cold, don’t brush them with oilβ€”they’re done after assembling.)
  5. Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium heat. Flip the sandwiches over and place them on the grill pan oiled-side down, then brush the other side of the sandwich with oil. Use a spatula to press the sandwiches down slightly, but don’t press too hard or you’ll have a mess of mozzarella everywhere! Cook 5-8 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Notes

Jarred roasted red peppers can be substituted for the fresh red bell pepper. If you can’t find a loaf of ciabatta bread at your grocery store, any sturdy, crusty bread will work.

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Arugula Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed arugula leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine arugula, walnut pieces, cheese, and garlic in the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, then pour olive oil through the feed tube and continue to process until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness
    February 24, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I lovelovelove making my own roasted peppers! It’s so easy!
    This sandwich is pretty much all my favorite flavours, pilled up between bread. You can never go wrong with bread.
    Gorgeous photos!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Yeah, we like roasting our own too–the jarred kind just isn’t the same. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    February 24, 2014 at 8:05 am

    That looks AMAZING! Is it weird I want it for breakfast?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Breakfast sandwiches are definitely a thing!

  • Reply
    Julia
    February 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Whenever I don’t have to cook, I wave my hands in the air, too! So nice to kick back, relax, and MAN I need to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race!!

    These sandwiches are the bees knees like nooooobody’s biznatch! I need them every day of my life. Gimme dat pesto!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 24, 2014 at 9:32 am

      YOU DO NEED TO WATCH IT! The new season starts tonight, so it’s the perfect time to start. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    dishing up the dirt
    February 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

    These sandwiches sounds so fresh I can almost taste springtime. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    JulieD
    February 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I love this! I make a fresh mozzarella sandwich and alternate between using pesto and straight up basil. I love that you used an arugula pesto! I’m all about leftovers btw, Curtis doesn’t like them though!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      I can’t wait to start growing basil again this spring so I can make pesto with it! But I bet you can grow it year-round. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
    February 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    This is my ideal sandwich in every way!!!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    February 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Yes please, this is my dream sandwich. You can’t miss with roasted red peppers + pesto!

  • Reply
    Jen @ Jen Spends
    February 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    That looks SO good. I’ll have to try this next time I make mozzarella.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      I need to make mozzarella someday! That’s on my weekend project list. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Hilary
    February 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Yum! I’ll eat anything with pesto on it!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    February 24, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    We really couldn’t get through the week without leftovers…they are ALL WE EAT. I especially love sandwich leftovers because they taste just as good the next day! Anything with these Mediterranean flavors and ingredients sounds good to me!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Yeah, why do people hate on leftovers? I mean: CONVENIENCE!!! And if something is good the first day, I’m always delighted to eat it again the next day.

  • Reply
    Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe
    February 25, 2014 at 3:32 am

    I’ve just recently developed a passion for roasted red peppers, which I quite disliked when I was younger. Now I can’t have enough of them and am always looking for new ways to incorporate them into my meals! This sounds like a perfect vehicle since I’m huge fan of sandwiches, too!

    xo, Elisa

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      I never liked red peppers when I was younger either. We were missing out! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Judy P
    February 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    What kind of veg could I sub for the Arugula? I’ve been buying large bags of spinach for my smoothies, could I use that? and I don’t like walnuts, would toasted sunflower seeds work? Love your ideas!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm

      I’ve never made a pesto with sunflower seeds, although I have successfully used pumpkin seeds, so I think that should work. Spinach is much milder than arugula, so it won’t have that peppery kick. You may want to add some basil to it to make it more flavorful.

      • Reply
        Judy P
        February 25, 2014 at 11:47 pm

        Thanks, I think the basil or oregano would be good with a little garlic, Might even try some Cayenne and Cilantro for a different taste. These sound great for pasta or pizza’s either one.

  • Reply
    Angie (@angiesrecipess)
    February 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    This looks beyond delicious! Love the flavours of this delicious sandwich.

  • Reply
    She Rocks Fitness
    February 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    LOVE this combo! Reminds me of summer…I haven’t made pesto in so long and it’s so easy. Thanks for sharing! XOXO

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      I will make pesto out of just about anything! It’s definitely a staple in my fridge. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Shirley
    February 26, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Yum! I don’t mind leftovers at all (OK, maybe if it gets to a 4th day of the same thing), but I just can’t get on board with arugula. I’m gonna be boring and make this one day with a basil pesto. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Arugula is totally a love-it-or-hate-it food! I used to not like it, but now I really enjoy that sharp flavor. But basil pesto works too. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Bakerita
    February 27, 2014 at 9:24 am

    It’s a rarity if a sandwich with mozzarella and pesto in a menu I’m looking at doesn’t get ordered, and this looks like an amazing variation. Love the arugula pesto! Pinned.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Yeah, at a lot of restaurants, some variation of that sandwich is pretty much the only vegetarian option. I never get tired of it though! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Courtney
    April 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I came here for dinner ideas for tomorrow and now I feel like i need to make this NOW. I don’t mind leftovers, however Chris is a weirdo and won’t eat anything that isn’t fresh. That’s when I just lie and said I just made it again, and everyone is happy πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      April 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      That works! I’m lucky that my Chris likes leftovers too. πŸ™‚ Because with a food blog, there are a LOT of leftovers around here. I’m sure you know how that is!

  • Reply
    Oakland
    February 9, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    This is my first week trying your meal plans! Thanks for the awesome resource. I’ll let you know next week how it went. πŸ˜› (The sandwiches were delicious)

  • Reply
    Gail Sieczka
    December 27, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I made these last night, they are YUMMY YUMMY YUM! My family of meat eaters did have me add some london broil on it for them, I ate mine just the way the recipe says and it was so good that I had to have it for lunch today. Thank you for an awesome recipe that my entire family can enjoy. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      December 29, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it was a hit! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Jenni
    January 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    This was delicious! I added ham slices to my husband’s sandwich (he’s not cool enough to be vegetarian ;p) but I enjoyed mine exactly as is….and the pesto is amazing. I’ll definitely be making this again. thank you!

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