The inspiration for tonight’s dinner came from a container of Paola’s Arugula Pesto.  One of my most favorite customers brought it in for me today.  I was psyched!

A million-and-one ideas started formulating, but a chicken sandwich on ciabatta rose to the top like cream on the milk of my youth.  Once there, it was just a matter of what else was going between the slices of bread.

Sandwiches are wonderful things.  There is just no end to the variety and amount of ingredients one can use – or ways to put them together.  Hot, cold, grilled, pressed, open-faced, triple-decker, or even deep fried like a Monte Cristo.  And every variation has a bread variation, as well.  The possibilities really are endless.

And with just a little imagination, you can elevate the humble sandwich to rock-star status!

Tonight’s variation on a theme started out with a single chicken breast sliced thin.  I sauteed it with a handful of sliced mushrooms, a bit of garlic powder, salt, and pepper and set it aside.

I sliced the ciabatta in half lengthwise and spread mayonnaise on the bottom.  On top of the mayo went a thinly-sliced d’anjou pear.  Oh yeah!  I used my mandoline and sliced it paper-thin and layered it all over the bread.

Next came the chicken and mushrooms.

On the top half of the bread I spread the arugula pesto and then topped it with fontina cheese.  I placed it under the broiler to melt it a bit.

When it was done, I added a handful of fresh arugula to the sandwich, and placed the cheesy top on top.

It worked.

On every level.

The star of the show really was the pears.  They added a sweetness that really balanced the pepperiness of the arugula and pesto and I swear, made me smile at every bite.  If you don’t have a mandoline, consider asking for one for your next birthday or other gift-receiving event.  Add one to your bridal registry.  They really are a great tool.

The arugula pesto was also really nice.  It had a great balance of flavors.  I can see a few more dishes utilizing it.

The wheels are already turning…..