Caprese Sandwich with Olive Pesto

Layers of summer produce, fresh mozzarella, and savory olive pesto fill this fresh, satisfying loaded caprese sandwich. A must-try cookout meal!

Caprese sandwich 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, sun-dried 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.

Caprese Sandwich Recipe Ingredients

I set out to make a tasty tapenade – similar to one Jack and I shared (and loved) at a bar in Rome. What I ended up with was a pesto. I use a handful of basil, toasted almonds, lemon juice, balsamic, and green olives to make a rich, briny spread to play off the other ingredients in this caprese sandwich. 

I finish the sandwiches with piles of grilled veggies, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and roasted red peppers.

A few tips: the better your bread is, the better your sandwich will be. I recommend thick slices of fresh sourdough or ciabatta rolls. Also, make sure you cut your mozzarella to a decent thickness. I find that 1/4 inch thick slices yield the perfect amount of creamy texture without being too overwhelming.

Pesto caprese sandwich recipe

Caprese Sandwich Serving Suggestions

These sandwiches would be great for a cookout! Since you’ll already be grilling, try making grilled corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, or grilled avocado to serve on the side. A picnic salad – like this broccoli salad, this couscous salad, or this watermelon salad – would be delicious, too. And of course, you can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries.

You can make the pesto up to 2 days in advance and store it in the fridge. If you have some left over, slather it onto toast or dollop it over eggs. Toss leftover grilled veggies into veggie pasta or orzo, or make a caprese sandwich again the next day!

Pesto Caprese Sandwich with grilled veggies

If you love this pesto caprese sandwich recipe…

Try this avocado sandwich, this tempeh club sandwich, or this vegan banh mi next!

Veggie Caprese Sandwich with Olive Pesto

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This grilled veggie caprese sandwich is a delicious summer cookout meal. It takes minutes to make, and it's loaded with veggies, fresh mozzarella, and a yummy olive pesto.
Recipe type: Sandwich, main dish
Serves: 4
For the grilled veggies:
  • Zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Red onion, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • Portobello mushrooms, sliced about ½ inch thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Sea salt & fresh black pepper
For the olive pesto:*
  • ¼ cup 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
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
For the sandwiches:
  • Grainy bread, sourdough, or ciabatta, toasted or grilled
  • Olive & almond pesto
  • Arugula
  • Basil leaves
  • Grilled veggies (your favorites, or see below)
  • Fresh mozzarella (vegan sub: sliced avocado)
  • Roasted red peppers
  1. Grill the veggies: Slice veggies and toss them with a bit of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high.
  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).
  4. Make the pesto: Blend the olives, almonds, basil, lemon juice & zest, balsamic all in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to your liking.
  5. 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.
*You can make the pesto ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.


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 🙂

  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. 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 🙂

  21. I’m still learning to love olive. This looks so delicious! Love the idea of olive pesto 🙂

  22. Lydia C.

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

  23. 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!

  24. mary e

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

  25. Ashley from

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

  26. 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!)

  27. 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 🙂

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. Carolyn

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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 🙂

  33. Katie k

    I love caprese with basil pesto and grille bread 🙂

  34. 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!

  35. Mia

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

  36. Lori H

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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!

  40. 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.