When I was a kid, I spent long days at our community pool, swimming, hanging with friends, and, of course, eating. I still crave some of the foods I ate from the concession stand, particularly whole dill pickles and French bread pizza (but not at the same time!).
Some of my tastes have changed in the decades that have passed, and microwaveable French bread pizza just doesn't do it for me anymore. So I created this pesto and chicken version with a helping hand from a trip to the grocery store to meet me right where I'm at.
Take Advantage of the Shortcuts
The key here is to pick a really delicious prepared pesto, easily found in grocery stores even when basil isn't in season. Layered on crispy French bread with fresh cherry tomatoes, sautéed chicken, and mozzarella cheese, it's probably one of the fastest things (like 20 minutes fast) to make for dinner that everyone at the table will be on board with. It's more work than ordering from the concession stand, but during this decade, that's more in line with what I'm looking for.
French Bread Pesto Chicken Pizza
medium boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
(10-ounce) loaf French bread or baguette
cherry tomatoes, halved, divided
shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese shavings, for serving (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and 2 big pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and starting to turn golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Use a serrated knife to cut the bread in half lengthwise. Place the halves cut-side up on a baking sheet. Spread the pesto on bread. Top with half the tomatoes and half the chicken. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella. Top with the remaining tomatoes and chicken.
Bake until the bread is heated through and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and Parmesan shavings if desired. Cut each half into 2 pieces for serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.