I’ve got my morning smoothie rotation on lock, but sometimes find myself struggling with what to make for lunch. During the week when I’m especially busy doing all the things, I need something that’s quick but satisfying, healthy and keeps me full until dinner. I think it’s safe to say that lunchtime struggle will be a thing of the past now that my friend @olivia.adriance and I have come up with the panini of everyone’s dreams: Avocado Turkey Pesto Paninis.

I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, or making, these paninis since Olivia and I paired up to create some recipe magic in the kitchen. I mean… avocado, turkey, pesto, sourdough (and more) – pretty hard to resist if you ask me. I have a feeling you’ll be making this on repeat too once you give it a try.

PERFECTLY PRESSED PANINI

What Olivia and I really love about this panini recipe is how warm, crispy, customizable and delish it is. You need it in your life, trust us! Whether you’re stuck in a lunch rut, or are just looking to switch up your sandwich style, this one has all the fixings to leave you feeling happily and healthily full. Plus, is there anything better than a perfectly pressed, crunchy on the outside yet fluffy in the center, slice of sourdough to bite into? It’s the best ASMR, irl.

ALL THE BALANCE, ALL THE BENEFITS

Sometimes I feel like sandwiches get a bad rap, but if you build it with all the right, better-for-you ingredients, it can be a perfectly balanced meal. Take that sandwich up a notch by turning it into a panini and you’ll never look back. This one is especially balanced between the healthy fats from the avocado, ghee, olive oil and nuts in the pesto, the protein from the sliced turkey and the healthy carbs and fiber from the sourdough. On the subject of sourdough, did you know it also provides nutrients and vitamins like iron and folic acid, and can even act as a prebiotic, helping to aid digestion? We love a good food fun fact.

Sneak in some greens with the arugula, vitamin C from the roasted red peppers and antioxidants from the seared onions – not to mention the combined flavor of all these incredible fixings – and you will be in foodie heaven. And if you need another way to sneak in some green veggies and find yourself in foodie heaven: try mine and Olivia’s other recipe for our decadent Double Chocolate Zucchini Blender Muffins (I wasn’t kidding when I said we created recipe magic that day!).

LAYERS OF FLAVOR

While each layer of the panini is equally as important and delicious as the next, I have to say my new favorite panini hack is spreading pesto on one slice of the sourdough and Calabrian chili peppers on the other. The bright and herby taste from the basil in the pesto and the little bit of heat from the chili peppers really just elevates the entire flavor profile of this panini. It’s out of control in the best way possible. Save this one for when your next sandwich craving hits – whether it’s for a gourmet-inspired lunch or a quick and easy, delicious dinner on those days you’re just not in the mood to cook. Round out the meal and serve it with your favorite side salad, chips (Siete is my go-to), pickles or fruit.

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED:

  • Sourdough bread
  • Olive oil or ghee
  • Sliced turkey
  • Avocado slices
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Prepared pesto
  • Chopped calabrian chili peppers (if you like a little heat)
  • Seared onions
  • Goat cheese (if not dairy-free)
  • Arugula
  • Sea salt‌

HOW TO MAKE AVOCADO TURKEY PESTO PANINIS

Generously spread ghee or olive oil on the outside of your sourdough bread. Add pesto to one side and Calabrian chili pepper spread to the other.

Layer with turkey slices, avocado, roasted red peppers, seared onions, goat cheese (if not dairy-free), and arugula. Add olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Grill in the panini press until golden. Slice and devour!

RECIPE SUBSTITUTIONS & QUESTIONS

There are lots of ways to customize this panini to fit your preferences and/or dietary needs. Instead of sourdough, you could use your preferred sliced bread, gluten-free if needed. If you prefer sliced chicken over turkey, that could definitely work. I like to buy organic deli meat to ensure I’m getting a high-quality protein source. 

Omit or add the goat cheese (or whatever your favorite cheese is), depending on any dairy sensitivities. If spicy isn’t your thing, you could also omit the chili pepper spread. For the pesto, you can easily buy store-bought (I’m big on reading the ingredient labels closely to make sure I buy one free from unnecessary additives), or if you’d like to go the homemade route, try this pesto recipe I included in my Loaded Chicken Pesto Panini.

WHY PUT AVOCADO IN A SANDWICH?

Avocado has many benefits of being added to a sandwich. For starters, the buttery, creamy texture pairs well with sliced turkey and can easily be added to hot or cold paninis or sandwiches. Depending how you like the texture, you can slice it or mash it. Sometimes, avocado is even used as a substitute for mayonnaise as it offers a similar, smooth, texture while providing healthy fats and other nutrients.

SHOULD I BUTTER BREAD BEFORE USING A PANINI PRESS?

While it’s not exactly a necessity, it is highly recommended to spread either butter, ghee, or olive oil on your panini bread before pressing it. Doing so will give it that perfect, crostini-like crunch. The grill marks are also kind of a panini hallmark, but don’t worry if you don’t have a panini press! You could always toast your sandwich in a hot skillet. I’d recommend heating your skillet over medium heat, and toasting the sandwich for about 2 minutes per side.

LOVE THIS PANINI? TRY THESE OTHER SANDWICHES:

Italian Sub Paninis

Loaded Chicken Pesto Panini 

My Go-To Loaded Sandwich

Gluten-Free Hot Honey Chicken Sliders 

High-Protein Chicken Caesar Wrap

Click here to watch the reel I made of this recipe 🙂

Avocado Turkey Pesto Paninis

5 from 1 vote
By Rachael DeVaux
Total: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Sourdough bread
  • Olive oil or ghee
  • Sliced turkey
  • Avocado slices
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Prepared pesto
  • Chopped Calabrian chili peppers, if you like a little heat
  • Seared onions
  • Goat cheese, if not dairy-free
  • Arugula
  • Sea salt

Instructions 

  • Generously spread ghee or olive oil on the outside of your sourdough bread. Add pesto to one side and Calabrian chili pepper spread to the other.
  • Layer with turkey slices, avocado, roasted red peppers, seared onions, goat cheese (if not dairy-free), and arugula. Add olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Grill in the panini press until golden. Slice and devour!

Welcome! I’m Rachael.

I enjoy sharing my love for food and fitness. I'm a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and a New York Times Bestselling author. Here you'll find all kinds of recipes and kitchen hacks, as well as workouts and fitness motivation. Enjoy! — xx Rachael

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  1. 5 stars
    Love your sandwiches- gf sourdough does exist but homemade is awesome. Just made a brown rice flour based gf sourdough sandwich loaf for your turkey & goat cheese ‘grilled cheese’ recipe! You can also use Culina for a ‘cheaters’ boule if the flavor alone is what you’re looking for…