Veggie Caprese with Olive Pesto

veggie caprese with olive pesto /

I’m in the process of learning to like olives… little by little I’m getting closer. I figure there are so many tangy, briny foods that I love – capers, pickles, sundried tomatoes – it’s time for this olive hangup to end. So when the folks from Mezzetta contacted me to make a sandwich using any of their products, I went straight for the olives.

I set out to make a tasty tapenade – similar to one Jack and I shared (and loved) at a bar in Rome. A handful of basil and a few toasted almonds later, my tapenade had turned into pesto. However, the underlying briny tang was exactly what I was going for.ย Depending on where you are on your personal olive scale, you could add more or less olives to suit your taste.

The olive spread became the base for this massive grilled veggie sandwich with fresh mozzarella, arugula, and roasted red peppers.

veggie caprese with olive pesto / veggie caprese with olive pesto / A giveaway:ย To help one of you get started on your prize winning sandwich, we’re giving away someย Mezzetta goodies – a box full of delicious peppers, olives & spreads.

This giveaway is now closed.

veggie caprese with olive pesto
olive & almond pesto
  • ¼ cup mezzetta green olives
  • ½ cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted
  • 2 big handfuls of basil (about 1 packed cup)
  • juice of ½ a lemon, plus some zest
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Make the pesto by blending all ingredients in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside in the fridge while you grill your bread and veggies. (pesto can be made ahead and stored for a few days).
  2. Assemble sandwiches with bread, a spread of pesto, arugula, basil leaves, grilled veggies, slices of mozzarella, and roasted red peppers. Top with a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes.
simple grilled veggies
  • zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • red onion, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • portobello mushrooms, sliced about ½ inch thick
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Slice veggies and toss them with a bit of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat your grill or grill pan pretty high. (I prefer a cast iron grill pan).
  3. I like to grill my veggies in order of most to least delicate because the pan holds more and more heat as I go. Here, I started with the zucchini (a few minutes per side, just until grill marks form), then the onions (grill a little longer than the zucchini), and lastly the mushrooms (I grill these until they're tender and nearly falling apart - 8-12 minutes total depending on the heat).

This post is sponsored by Mezzetta, thanks for supporting the sponsors that support Love & Lemons.


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. I used to have an affliction to olives. I think the local tapas joint used to know me so well that they purposely knew and left out the olives of some Spanish dishes. One day I was served a delicious veggie cob sandwich which had a base of confit black olives. OMG love at first sight!.
    Your sandwich looks divine, I can not wait for Sunday to roll around when I take out my grill.

  2. Alex

    Do you have any tips for grilling vegetables? I always end up with peppers closer to the burnt end of that scale…
    My favorite sandwich, hands down, is the mediterranean panini with muffuletta at Rossi’s Deli in Poughkeepsie, NY. Eggplant, artichokes, fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and peppers…. Perfect bread, perfect cheese, perfect sandwich.

    • jeanine

      Hi Alex, I just added some info about grilled veggies underneath the recipe. This time I used roasted peppers from the jar, but my best tip to avoid burning veggies is to cook each type separately since most require different amounts of cooking time.

  3. Jess

    I make my favorite sandwich for lunch right after the farmer’s market! I just slice up whatever raw veggies I just bought, slather hummus on both sides of hearty toasted bread, and smash together. Super juicy tomatoes, crisp radishes, cool cucumbers and zukes, fresh lettuces, tender asparagus… Tastes like summer to me!

  4. Annie

    My favorite sandwich is (was) The Chicago at a now-defunct soda fountain in Fargo, ND. It was essentially a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with caramelized onions on a bagel. Yum!

  5. Well this looks lovely. I too am struggling with learning to like olives- I’ll have to see if this olive spread does the trick ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Christine

    I would love to win this contest, and sandwiches are one of my favorite things. I love mixing different meals (breakfast for dinner, yes please!) so it’s no surprise my favorite sandwich, Croque-Madame, includes an egg!

  7. JC Carter from

    I love olives!

    My favorite sandwich is probably what I call the Vermonter, A sandwhich I have seen in several resturants, roasted turkey, smoked bacon, a crisp green apple, covered in cheddar cheese. It’s a-mazing!

  8. jessie

    whole wheat sourdough, toasted; dijon mustard on one slice a bit of blueberry jam on the other; arugula and roasted red pepper on the mustard side, roasted peaches on the jam side; two slices set side by side (touching) with a six minute egg set right in the middle. Perfect indecisive sweet and savory brunch.

  9. chris

    I could eat BLT with avocado every day for the rest of my life.

  10. Lauren

    My absolute all-time favorite sandwich is a grilled salami, mozzarella, and arugala on peasant bread. I haven’t had it with olive tapenade in the mix, but I bet it would be delicious with the addition of some tapenade and slices of perfectly ripe tomato.

  11. Kate

    My favorite sandwich would have to be a BLT or the Italian sandwich from Bunk Sandwiches in Portland!

  12. Amy

    My favorite sandwich is anything with potato chips in it!

  13. i have always loved anything briny flavor and this will def. will delicious one to try. Esp the grilled bread and cheese- yum!

  14. Gail

    French baguette w/a very good brie and chutney and slivered almonds – if not chutney – then a fig jam or preserves – maybe a little cornichon pickle on the side – yummmmm

  15. brindley

    my love for sandwiches started with joey from friends. I now crave sandwiches at least once a day…therefore all time favorite is difficult.
    Im gonna go with a simple something I learned in france. The best dang french baguette ( which I still haven’t quite mastered), brushed with olive oil. Double creme Brie with fresh sun gold cherry tomatoes straight from the garden…slightly toast this all together and prepare to be hooked. Add some arugula for a fresh spice.

  16. Joanna

    I love all sandwiches. A simple, quick sandwich I enjoy is a grilled cheese on a hearty, locally baked bread with a mixture of cheeses, including a bit of Cabot Vintage Choice Extra Sharp Cheddar (aged 2 years…a little goes a long way), thinly sliced apple like Fuji and a bit of Dijon mustard. If I had some arugula handy, I would add a few pieces to add a bit of spice.

  17. Tasha

    I love a good veggie sandwich that includes avocado and hummus. Or lots of cheese.

  18. Bell

    my favorite is ether a veggie burger or a grilled herb and veggie sandwich between 2 crisp grilled sourdough bread slices!!!

  19. Afton from

    I have my own Mezzetta plug for you! I just bought a jar of chopped green chiles of that brand, and they make everything soooooooo good. Bean and cheese burritos with more green chiles than anything else were dinner yesterday and lunch today…

    • jeanine

      ha, thanks, they’ll love this comment :). I’ll have to try those, you have me craving green chile enchiladas now…

  20. Joe

    a good Italian sub

  21. Tieghan from

    Mmm! I love olive pesto so much!! This sandwich would be a great way to lean into liking olives. It is perfect and beautiful!

    • jeanine

      yep, definitely a lean! I’ll get there, little by little and then I’m sure they’ll become my favorite food ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I’m still learning to love olive. This looks so delicious! Love the idea of olive pesto ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Lydia C.

    Olives are one of my favorite foods. I love a grilled cheese sandwich with apples. It is so good!

  24. Laura Marturano

    This sandwich looks amazing! I love making a similar sandwich on a gluten-free bagel…pesto, little bit of mayo, cheese, tomato, spinach, avocado & sprouts!

  25. mary e

    your sammie looks devine. my faves are either an italian or a muffaletta. majot fan of olives.

  26. Ashley from

    I could eat this every single day for ever + ever. Fabulous!

  27. I love a good grilled cheese. With many different cheesy flavors. It would be awesome with an olive spread! Yum! (:

    • jeanine

      ooh yes, the tangy olive flavor would be great with a bunch of cheeses (next time!)

  28. Johanna

    my favorite sandwich is the Mayflower it’s stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey. Reminds me of Thanksgiving I love that Holliday with all the fam together and all the love. That’s why I love this sandwich ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Talia

    It’s hard to exactly pinpoint my favorite sandwich, but I decided on one that I had in a cafe in a small New England town that absolutely blew me away with the flavors I would normally never pair together. I nicknamed it the “sweet spot;” sliced thin granny smith apple, cooked sweet potato discs (with skin on), lemon aiolii (it was vegan), garlic hummus, sprouts, and spinach on a toasted grainy bread. Delish!

    • jeanine

      um, this one sounds so interesting and amazing!

  30. Nicole

    I go back and forth with my love for olives. Not sure what it is. Maybe it’s a gotta-be-in-the-mood type of thing.

    Anyway, by far my favorite sandwich with olives is the muffaletta considering I grew up in Louisiana. My dad eats green olive and PB sandwiches. Strange but a combo that works, I suppose.

    My true favorite non-olive sandwich is a simple roasted veggie + pesto + goat cheese.

    I’m a true fan of your site, btw, though I haven’t commented prior.

  31. Carolyn

    Yay! I love olives and this pesto is such a great idea!

  32. Jeri

    This sandwich looks great! I love all kinds of veggies but my favorite is avocado, sprouts, red onions, pesto, curly lettuce, fresh tomato, and feta on an everything bagel.

  33. Green olive and almond pesto! This sandwich looks amazing. I love that you are slowly coming around to olives. One day soon that olive bar at Whole Foods will be your BFF!

    • jeanine

      ha, so funny you said that because lately I’ve been thinking that same thought whenever I walk by it ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Katie k

    I love caprese with basil pesto and grille bread ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Alexe from

    I love a classic caprese sandwich with compari tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. YUM-O! I also love how you made the olive tapenade into a sandwich spread, delicious and healthy!

  36. Mia

    A deli in SF does a fabulous grilled chicken sandwich on toasted ciabatta with pesto, mozzarella, onions, greens, and sundried tomatoes. Yum!!

  37. Lori H

    Favorite sandwich: crusty wheat bread spread with avocado and filled with grilled veggies and goat cheese!

  38. I LOVE olives, in all shapes, flavors, sizes, and textures! Yum! This sandwich looks so amazing and I will definitely have to try this pesto.

  39. Anna from

    I had a fried chicken BLT at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Greenville, SC and it was amazing! I do love me some Jimmy John’s #9 though…fast and cheap!

  40. I’m not an olive lover (or even liker) either. I’m trying to expand my culinary horizons, though, so maybe I should give this a try!

  41. Meena from

    What a fantastic way to use olives! I’m a big olive fan but end up using them as is; or just eat them whole out of a jar. And I believe that nuts + basil are always a winning combo! Looks yummy, fresh and healthy!!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.