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 too—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

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes

Total Time

25 minutes


4 sandwiches


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 500ºF (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 oil—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.


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.

Arugula Pesto


  • 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


  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.


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!

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!

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!

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

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!!

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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 😉

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

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. 🙂

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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