This easy Grilled Chicken Panini recipe is part of social shopper amplification that I participated in for Collective Bias and their advertiser. I'm a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community, and I was compensated for this post, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I think simple seasonings like butter and sea salt can be the best flavor enhancers when it comes to creating tasty dinner recipes, but butter is loaded with calories and cholesterol, and too much salt can cause high blood pressure, so some people are required to find suitable substitutes for those ingredients. It's perfectly fine in moderation, but I'm a bit of a butter glutton. Seriously...a piece of warm, homemade bread WITHOUT butter on it? Or a dish of steamed asparagus without butter sauce? It makes me a little woozy to think about, but my dad died of heart disease before the age of 50, so I really need to stay on top of my cholesterol. Even if you don't have a history of heart problems, problems with high cholesterol and hardened arteries can pop up out of nowhere, so it's important to think about preventative measures.
What's a butter lover to do? Well, as I played around and tested different alternatives, I found that olive oil is an awesome and tasty substitute for butter.
FOOD FACTS - OLIVE OIL
- Olives are a fruit, and olive oil is a fruit juice derived from pressing or mashing the olives.
- Olive oil contains only 33% saturated fat, while butter is composed of 66% saturated fat.
- Olive oil has no cholesterol, while a serving of butter has 33mg of cholesterol.
Are all olive oils the same? Not at all!
Olive oil comes in 4 varieties: virgin, extra virgin, pure and light. Virgin means that no chemicals were used in the process of extracting the oil from the fruit. Extra virgin means that the olive oil has undergone several tests to confirm its taste and to verify that it's free of defects. Light olive oil is a blend of pomace olive oil, which is olive oil that's been extracted from the fruit using heat and chemicals.
It's a healthier form of fat , so I've chosen to use olive oil regularly, and I've been content with that decision. The thing is, I learned recently that Star created a butter flavored olive oil! If I can have healthy olive oil with the taste of butter, I just might be able to have the best of both worlds. I picked some up at Walmart (which is currently the only store where it's available) and I couldn't wait to get a recipe created with it.
For a simple taste test, it would've been easy to drizzle some over potatoes before roasting, or to toss some veggies with it, but I really wanted to test the buttery flavor out on something that I typically use butter with, so I decided to make a Grilled Chicken Panini sandwich with it.
In order for a perfectly grilled sandwich to "sell me" on its tastiness, it has to be crispy outside, so I decided that instead of butter, I would spread some of the olive oil on the outside of the bread. For inside of the sandwich, I used caramelized onions, baby spinach leaves, crispy bacon, aged white cheddar cheese, and strips of grilled chicken.
I found some really nice chicken breasts during my last shopping trip to Costco. NORMAL sized ones. I say that for a very good reason. Good gravy, I wish I had taken pictures of the last chicken breasts I bought (from a different wholesale club). They were pumped so full of hormones, they were practically the size of turkey breasts… UGH! Bigger is NOT better when it comes to meat.
Anyway, I put some of the fresh chicken into my cart and had plans to just grill it up with some of the Star olive oil in a pan, but when I wheeled over to the frozen foods section, I found some of the precooked, grilled chicken strips that I love. HELLO, convenience! I chose to use those for my sandwich instead.
If you don't have a Panini press, you can make this grilled chicken Panini with a grill pan and press, a heavy cast iron pan, or even just a simple frying pan. You'll just want something heavy, like another pan, to place on top of your sandwich as it's grilling. The reason I like Panini sandwiches so much is because they get compressed as they're grilled, making them REALLY gooey and delicious. Oh, and I'm crazy in love with the crevices on the outside. If you'd rather not putz with all of that panini business, that's okie dokie with me...this is a judgment free zone, so grill up your sandwich any which way you'd like to!
Are you ready to put one of these grilled chicken panini sandwiches together? Grab your apron and I'll meet you in the kitchen. Let's make a few, because it's yummi!
GRILLED CHICKEN PANINI WITH BACON & CARAMELIZED ONIONS
- 2 slices of thick, hearty bread (I used artisan 3-cheese sourdough)
- 2 ounces grilled chicken, cut into thin slices
- 2 slices bacon, crisply cooked
- 1 Tablespoon Star butter flavored olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons caramelized or grilled onions
- baby spinach leaves (about 4 or 5)
- 1 ounce of your favorite cheese (I used aged white cheddar)
- Use a pastry brush or paper toweling to lightly grease the inside of a panini press, grill pan, or skillet with 2 teaspoons butter flavored olive oil. Place plan over medium heat to warm up while you assemble your sandwich.
- Use same pastry brush to apply olive oil onto one side of both slices of bread. Onto the dry side of one slice of bread, layer sliced chicken, onions, bacon, spinach, and cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, making sure that the side that's been coated with oil is face up.
- Place sandwich into heated skillet (or panini press) and weigh it down. Grill for 2-3 minutes or until sandwich has compressed, bread is grilled, and cheese has melted.
How quick and easy was that? It's time to eat!
A big thanks to everyone at #CollectiveBias for allowing me to work with this amazing product, and for giving me such amazing support along the way! You're all rock stars in my book!