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. 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!

  2. Katie k

    I love caprese with basil pesto and grille bread 🙂

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. Carolyn

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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!)

  10. Ashley from

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

  11. mary e

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

  12. 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!

  13. Lydia C.

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

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

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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…

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.