My own "Chicken Tomesto" Panini (Like Panera's)

Kelly Williams


Before we bought our house, we lived across the street from a Panera Bread restaurant. We LOVED their soups & paninis! I was heartbroken when they stopped making my favorite, their "Chicken Tomesto" panini. So I decided to play in the kitchen and figure it out when I had a terrible craving for one. Though it of course is not exact, I thought it came out wonderful! This is one GOOD panini! I'm going to work on making a 3-cheese focaccia next to have it on as that seemed to be the only thing "missing". For quick assembly, make the tomatoes, pesto and chicken the day before.
~Photos by me~

Featured Pinch Tips Video

★★★★★ 1 vote
15 Min
2 Hr 5 Min



roma tomatoes, sliced into 8 slices each
fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste
1 1/2
tsp. dried thyme, divided
tsp. minced garlic
tsp. evoo


boneless skinless chicken thighs, trim off fat
tbl. spicy brown mustard (i used french's)
tbl. evoo
fresh cracked black pepper


cup sun-dried tomato pesto (i used classico's)
tsp. chili powder


ciabatta rolls, *see note at bottom
cup field or spring greens that includes arugula (*don't use the baby spinach leaves though)
thin slices of purple (red) onion
thick slices fresh mozzarella
tsp. fresh parmesan0/reggiano cheese, grated, or more to taste
tsp. fresh asiago cheese, grated, or more to taste
*evoo for brushing bread


Step 1 Direction Photo

1For the Oven-Roasted Tomatoes:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Slice tomatoes into 16 slices (8 slices each.) Place onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of the thyme. (Crush thyme between your fingers when adding to release their flavor and crush a bit finer.) Turn each slice over, and repeat. Sprinkle with the minced garlic. Drizzle with the EVOO.

Step 2 Direction Photo

2Place into oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and bake for 30 minutes longer. Turn and bake for 15 minutes to finish them.

Step 3 Direction Photo

3Cool on sheet. Remove to plate, cover and chill while chicken bakes.

Step 4 Direction Photo

4For the Chicken:
After you put the tomatoes into the oven, get the chicken going. In a small bowl, whisk together well the spicy brown mustard and EVOO. Trim chicken thighs of fat, place into a small ziplock baggie. Spoon half of the mustard mixture onto the thighs, flip bag over and spoon the rest onto the thighs. Close baggie removing the air. Squish around to coat the chicken entirely. Place in fridge to marinate while tomatoes are roasting.

Step 5 Direction Photo

5When tomatoes are done, remove chicken from fridge and turn oven up to 350 degrees. Place chicken onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet pretty side-up. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper to taste. Let rest while oven is heating up. (About 15 minutes.) Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest and cool a bit.

Step 6 Direction Photo

6When chicken has cooled for at least 5 minutes, slice into nice thin slices on the bias, press back together to stay moist, place into an air-tight container, and place into fridge until ready to use.

Step 7 Direction Photo

7Now it's time to assemble! Put your panini together in the order as follows:

bottom piece of ciabatta
spread with spicy tomato pesto (about 2 Tbl. per side)
2-4 slices of roasted tomato (to your preference)
a little bit of field greens, not too much though
a few paper-thin slices of purple onion
slices of chicken
2 thick slices fresh mozzarella
grated parmigano/reggiano
grated asiago
spread inside top bread with more tomato pesto
place on top securely

Step 8 Direction Photo

8Preheat panini maker to 325 degrees. When heated, brush top of sandwich with EVOO and place, top side-down, onto hot panini grill. Brush bottom with EVOO and close lid adjusting to lay flat and pressing lightly. Cook til done, about 4-5 minutes. Remove with heavy plastic spatula flipping over onto cutting board. Slice on the bias and serve hot.
*Depending on what bread is being used and the size of it, 2 ciabatta rolls will fit on most panini makers. When 2 are done, place into warm oven on baking sheet to keep hot while grilling 1-2 more.

Step 9 Direction Photo

This first time making them I used plain ciabatta rolls, but will work on making a 3-cheese bread recipe for focaccia that I think will be even better!

***Note also, that this is my OWN recipe, not off of the internet, and is in no way Panera Bread Company's recipe. It is simply my own interpretation of their recipe.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Chicken
Regional Style: Italian
Other Tag: Healthy