Sometimes you just need a really solid sandwich with a generous side of chips. These kale pesto chicken sandwiches with baked chips are just that – satisfying and delightful and sure to hit the spot. The kale pesto makes them (at least seem) somewhat virtuous, and asparagus, broccoli rabe, and arugula add extra green. Poaching, then shredding, the chicken allows the pesto to soak into every nook and cranny and baking the potatoes creates a crisp chip without the copious amounts of grease that deep-frying requires. Kale pesto chicken sandwiches with baked chips are a well-balanced summer meal. I personally love to enjoy them open-faced, but feel free to top them off with another slice of sourdough bread.
for the kale pesto
- 1 cups kale
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted*
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
for the chips
- 1 ¼ pounds potatoes (yukon gold or russet both work!)
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 4 cups water
- Ice cubes
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
for the chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
for the greens + assembly
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 1 loaf fresh bread (preferably sourdough), sliced ½-inch thick
- 4 tablespoons aioli, divided
- 1 cup arugula
*NOTE: if you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts or almonds work just fine, but do change the taste of the pesto.
kale pesto steps
Place the kale, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and blend for about 2 minutes until finely chopped. Add the pine nuts and pulse. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse more, then slowly add the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time until all the ingredients are combined and the pesto is smooth. Alternatively, you can do this by hand using a mortar and pestle. You can make this ahead and store it in a sealed jar for up to one week.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly cut the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl with the baking soda, water, and ice. Let the potatoes soak while the oven heats, about 20 minutes, then drain them and dry them with a paper towel. Meanwhile, render the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the meat from the skillet and reserve for later in the chicken. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with the rendered pancetta fat and avocado oil. Bake until golden and crispy, about 30 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with salt.
Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes then let sit for 5 minutes. Drain out the water, move the chicken to a plate or large bowl and using two forks, shred it. Mix in the pesto and the pancetta from earlier until it is evenly combined.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and sliced garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, Place the trimmed asparagus and broccoli rabe in a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water over it to blanch it. Immediately transfer to the skillet and cook for another 7 minutes until soft.
Lay out slices of bread and spread equal amounts of aioli on top. Place equal amounts of arugula on top of the bread slices then top with the pesto shredded chicken. Add the cooked broccoli rabe and season with salt and pepper.