Pistachio Pesto Panini // Not Without Salt

After I posted this simple pasta with creamy chevre, melted leeks and bacon I received a number of thank yous for sharing the sort of recipe that’s perfect for a weekday dinner and then came the requests for more like it.

I want this blog to not only be a source of inspiration but also to be used. I want to imagine the recipes, printed, set on your kitchen counter and getting splattered with a bit of olive oil and stained from strawberry juice. The thought of your computer opened up to this page on the edge of the counter while you cook this recipe makes me giddy, proud and a bit nervous – don’t drop your computer.

I want these recipes to feed you, your family and your neighbor down the street.

Inspiring, yet accessible – that’s what I’m going for. Not every recipe fits this category as I can also tend to get a bit crazy in the kitchen (hello, homemade bitters and butterfingers, I’m looking at you) but most, I hope, do.

Our dinners are rarely repeated, even more rarely cooked from an actual recipe and sometimes are so simple I fear they aren’t worth mentioning. But they’re real, simple and more often than not – quite delicious and satisfying. Unless you ask my kids. Their response is often moans and snarled lips if it’s anything other than a simple pasta or these sandwiches. However, there were no complaints with this meal.

The work comes from gathering the ingredients with this recipe. Mortadella and smoked mozzarella can be found at most stores and if you can’t find it use a good quality ham and go for an unsmoked cheese. Honestly, it’d still be a darn good sandwich without the meat.

The pesto nearly steals the show – it’s bright, fresh, peppery and hard to stop eating it with just a spoon. Like most of our weekday dinners, I try and think ahead and plan for the next day’s meals while I’m taking the time to cook this one. For that reason there’s a lot of pesto here. The next morning we stirred pesto into our eggs and then for dinner the following day there was a simple pesto pasta with a bit more cheese and roasted tomatoes. Suddenly a simple weekday dinner turns into an even simpler dinner for the next night.

I hope this recipe gets used, splattered, shared and enjoyed.


Pistachio Pesto Panini // Not Without Salt



sandwich sandwich2

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Mortadella and Smoked Mozzarella Panini with Pistachio Pesto

makes about 2 cups pesto

You really can use practically any combination of herbs you like. I went for arugula and mint because I love the pepper flavor the arugula adds and the bright and fresh taste of mint. And, this is the real reason – because I have both growing in abundance in the garden.

1 1/2 cups arugula, tightly packed

2 tablespoons fresh mint

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the arugula, mint, pistachios, garlic and Parmesan in a food processor. Pulse until everything is well pureed. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all well chopped.

While the machine is running stream in the lemon juice and olive oil. Don’t process too much as this tends to bruise the olive oil and add a slight bitterness.

Taste and adjust the flavors. A little salt here is fine too.


For the sandwich:

smoked mozzarella, sliced


olive oil

thick slices of good bread


Get a grill pan or panini press nice and hot. A skillet works fine too.

Drizzle the outside of the bread with olive oil. Slather a good amount of pesto on the inside of both halves. Layer in slices of mortadella with smoked mozzarella.

Grill the sandwich on both sides until golden, crisp and the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.


38 Responses to “Mortadella and Smoked Mozzarella Panini with Pistachio Pesto”

  1. kristel

    for some reason, i can’t bring myself to eat mortadella — are there any other meats you’d recommend substituting for a weirdo like me?

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Kristel – You’re such a weirdo. 🙂 Kidding, of course. In this here post I recommend ham if you can’t find or don’t like mortadella but I do really think you should try.

  2. i am pam

    your recipes will have olive stains – don’t you worry! simple and tasty. I made a version of this sandwich in pizza form. it was amazing. i loved smoked mozzarella but i have a hard time finding it where I live. but i have eyes peeled for more.

  3. Kathryn

    I love those real, simple meals. When you’re cooking every night and there are a million other things to be doing, that’s what we all need more of. This sandwich totally fits the bill.

  4. Manuela

    Ooooh, I love mortadella so much! My Mum had a huge craving for it when she was expecting me and ate so much of it she couldn’t have it again for years! I am Italian but live in London, UK, so really struggle to find it here and always buy it when I go back home. Pistachios are perfect with it, too.

  5. Erin

    The addition of mint is so inventive. I too have a lot of mint in my garden, so I will definitely give this a try.

  6. Tonya

    “Don’t process too much as this tends to bruise the olive oil and add a slight bitterness.” So that’s what I’m doing wrong with my homemade hummus! thanks for the info.

  7. Sera

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this pesto! I too have a ton of mint and arugula in my yard. It’s all I can do just to keep the arugula flowers from taking over everything else!

  8. Kara

    A now have a new best friend in a sandwich to go along with my other best friend, the Voldemort-della, by the Cheese Wizards! Bring on the Mortadella!

  9. Sarah

    That’s the third time someone has mentioned mortadella to me in the past week! It’s fate, i have to try it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. MyKrondy

    Made this last night. Substituted the mortadella with proscuitto. It was easy and delicious.

  11. Stephanie

    Just found your blog and feel inspired. I also began dating my husband in my teenage years. And amazingly enough he’s still the one after having 3 boys together who are now 5,3 &1.5 years old. I also love to cook…. love thinking about what to make…. always wishing I had more time or less chaos in my kitchen. I feel grateful to have found your blog and hear about a mother/wife (in my same situation) who is carving out a spot in the world for herself and her own dreams. I will be keeping up with you!

  12. Dan from Platter Talk

    This is such a delicious idea and perfect for the season. We have been using our panini maker recently at the cottage and will try this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Gosh I love pesto season. I make it at least twice a week over the summer and put it on everything! Haven’t tried pistachio pesto yet, but it’s now on my list and I plan to use it on a vegetarian version of this.

  14. Irina @ wandercrush

    Beautiful as always. I love love love pistachios (There was a time when it was the only nut I could stand!), so I’m not really sure why I’ve never had or made pistachio pesto!

  15. Julia

    Yumm!! The recipe sounds great, and the pictures look good enough to eat. It’s a great idea to think about the next day’s meals while making dinner and saving your leftovers for that. I’ll definitely keep that in mind as I cook from now one. Thanks for the great tip, and a well written and amusing post!

  16. Ashley Fresa

    this look so delicious! coming from a very Italian family myself, my father would love it! I feel like it could even be better if you melted some mozzarella cheese on there as well! Otherwise it looks super fresh and delicious! I can’t wait to share this recipe with my father! Thank you! 🙂

  17. Boozy Epicure

    I love all these exact flavors on pizza – mortadella, pistachio goodness, and yet never considered making it a panini – thanks for the inspiration. I’m gonna have to rethink a whole bunch of panini options.

  18. Barbara

    This panini is wonderful. Good job, Ashley.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe with us. It looks perfect and easy to make.

    I happy I found your blog.



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