Aaaah summer!!! It is still holding on and the barbecue is still blazing. I do love a nice juicy hamburger with melted cheese and dripping with luscious toppings just like all of us but for me a nice chicken burger is right up there as well. This is a version of a club sandwich with barbecued chicken, melted cheese, and salty bacon. It has the addition of a few slices of ripe avocado in each bite but the "piece de resistance" would be the garlic pesto mayonnaise. I had some leftover basil pesto from the other day so made a special sauce for my burger. I had read somewhere in the blogosphere about the more traditional way of making pesto, after all what did we do before technology!!!
Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. The leaves are washed, dried, placed in the mortar with garlic and coarse salt, and crushed to a creamy consistency. The pine nuts are added and crushed together with the other ingredients. When the nuts are well-incorporated into the "cream", grated cheese or olive oil can be added and mixed with a wooden spoon. But I am told that if you have ever tasted pesto in Italy you know that the pesto here is just not the same. Some day I hope to taste pesto somewhere in a vineyard in the rolling hillsides of Italy, but, until then I will do my best to duplicate it at home in a time-honoured Italian style.
Most of the pesto you encounter here is different for a couple of reasons. You can purchase reasonably good pesto in the frozen foods section of your local grocers but it is also easily made at home. Modern conveniences such as food processors and blenders make this Genovese sauce a breeze. It is quick and easy to blitz the ingredients and voila you have food from the Gods!!! Now don't get me wrong, I do understand that this is absolutely delicious and the way I prepare my own pesto with my own copious amounts of basil. But...and I do say but.....because the ingredients are not hand chopped in the time-honoured way you end up with a texture that is more like a moist paste and there is little to no definition between ingredients. I realize, after trying this method at the recommendation of another blogger, chopping all the ingredients by hand and not blending them is the key!! When pasta is graced with a pesto that has been hand chopped you will get bursts of basil flavours in every bite. By hand chopping all your ingredients together your pesto will take on a personality of it's own. I grew my own basil this year, which has seen better days by this time of the year, but I highly recommend it.
So, if you are serious about making good pesto, get a good sharp knife or mezzaluna. You'll need it!!!! Chopping the ingredients will take twenty or thirty minutes. Whatever you use to chop, make sure it has a sharp blade or the basil will turn dark. Believe me the reward at the end will be two fold. You will have developed muscles of a Greek Adonis as well as developed a mouthwatering combination for your pasta.
For this sandwich I mixed some of my leftover pesto with mayonnaise and more garlic for an accompaniment to my grilled sandwich.
**Grilled Chicken Club with Garlic Pesto Mayonnaise**
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 slices Swiss or other cheese of your choice
4 Kaiser rolls, sliced horizontally, toasted
4 lettuce leaves
8 tomato slices
8 slices bacon, cooked crisply
1/4 avocado, peeled, sliced
Garlic Pesto Mayonnaise, recipe follows
Preheat grill. Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top each chicken fillet with 2 slices cheese; heat on grill until cheese melts.
Spread garlic pesto mayonnaise on bottom half of each roll and top with lettuce, tomato, bacon, chicken and avocado.
Close each sandwich with top half of roll and serve.
Garlic Pesto Mayonnaise
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup mayonnaise
On a cutting board with a sharp knife or mezzaluna chop basil, pine nuts and garlic until a fine consistency. Add to a bowl. To this add salt, pepper, Parmesan. and mayonnaise, stirring to blend well. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.(Of course you could prepare the basil in a food processor if you like for speed)