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. 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!!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. Lori H

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

  6. Mia

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

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.