These Italian-inspired sandwiches are filled with roasted tomato and bell peppers, fresh mozzarella, and a simple, five-ingredient homemade basil pesto. These make a satisfying on-the-go lunch and are easy to make, yet so flavorful!
For me, the hardest part was waiting for the tomato and bell peppers to roast in the oven. But the end product was well worth the wait! Everything else was super easy to put together.
The roasted vegetables not only bring the nutrition value up a notch, but they also make the sandwiches that much tastier! Just one bite and you feel your taste buds teleporting to Flavor town (okay, I’ll stop now).
Another key for flavor? The homemade basil pesto! You may already know about my Simple Pasta Salad with Homemade Pesto Sauce. This pesto sauce for sandwiches is made from the same exact five ingredients (fresh basil, lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt to taste). However, for the sandwich sauce, I adjusted the ingredient quantities to get a chunkier consistency, which is perfect to spread on sandwiches.
How to make basil pesto sauce for this recipe
This pesto sauce is chunky, flavorful, and so easy to prepare. All you have to do is to toss the following ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until you get a sauce consistency. The ingredients are: 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, one 0.75-oz pack of fresh basil, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, freshly-squeezed juice of half a lemon, and salt to taste. That’s it! You can adjust the recipe to yield more, but I would recommend making it fresh for recipes as you go. Homemade pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- 3 ciabatta bread rolls (or focaccia)
- One red beefsteak tomato, sliced
- Two red bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and with the seeds/core removed
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of mayo (optional)
- 6 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Avocado, sliced
- Store-bought or homemade basil pesto (see my note under How to make basil pesto sauce for this recipe for a quick, homemade option)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use silicone mats. Add the tomato and bell pepper slices to the baking sheet. With a basting brush, coat the bell peppers with olive oil. Season both the tomato slices and the bell peppers with salt and pepper, to taste. (The olive oil helps the seasonings stick to the bell pepper). Turn on the roast setting of your oven and roast the vegetables for 20-22 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread mayo on the ciabatta rolls and then the pesto sauce. I did the mayo on both flaps and the pesto sauce on just one, but you can add it to both if you want.
Add one slice of fresh mozzarella cheese to each flap. Then, remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and layer them on the sandwich. I added the tomato to one flap and the bell pepper to the other flap. Bake the sandwiches open-faced in the oven at 425° for about 3-5 more minutes or until the mozzarella melts.
Remove from the oven and add the avocado slices. Then, close up the sandwich and slice in half, if desired. Enjoy on its own or with your favorite side dish.