Chicken-Grape Salad & Gruyere Panini

Like that of many other time-strapped folks, my current weeknight dinner strategy is to cook just a few times a week and repurpose the leftovers in between.  I was on Day 3 of my five pounds of Chicken Marbella (which is amazing, by the way – I highly recommend Elise’s recipe!) today when I decided it was time to turn this one into chicken salad and call it a day.  I remembered receiving an On Your Grill submission for “chicken salad melt” type panini, and when I looked back in my e-mail, sure enough, there was the idea from Arlene of The Food of Love.  Arlene described a sweet and savory chicken salad with dried cranberries and sliced almonds, grilled with cheddar and bacon.  “This one is addictive!” she wrote, and I can understand why!

While I didn’t have all of Arlene’s exact ingredients on hand, I loved the idea of grilling up a chicken salad panino.  I still have her recipe flagged to try soon, but on this hectic day I worked with what was in my refrigerator and pantry: leftover Chicken Marbella thighs, grapes, mayonnaise, chopped walnuts, Gruyère cheese from the block I bought for last weekend’s panini and dark rye bread.  I loved it!  The warm chicken salad, with its bursts of sweetness from the grapes (I got the grapes idea from Sharon at Culinary Adventures of a New Wife!) and subtle crunch from the walnuts, was so good under the melted cheese.  Move over tuna melts – chicken melts are here to stay!

As for passing along an appreciation of chicken to my baby daughter – well, it’s off to a bit of a slow start.  She likes the jarred organic “chicken dinner” combinations that contain sweet stuff like apricots and pears and just enough chicken purée to get the requisite 2g of protein on the nutrition label.  But I read somewhere that I should give her straight chicken so she’ll get more protein, ounce for ounce.  So I poached some chicken in the microwave (no seasoning – eek!), puréed it in the food processor and gave it a try.  Yeah, it was as nasty as you think – not unlike wood pulp.

So I mixed in some sweet potatoes in hopes that would help the situation.  It was a little better.  Not great, but baby food is usually at least a little bit gross, right?  So I fed it to the baby.  Heh heh.  The expression on  my normally sweet, happy, smiley little girl’s face quickly turned puzzled…and then disturbed.  She uttered something like a growl!!  Then her mouth opened and her little tongue pushed out the offending yellow mushy stuff.

So we’re back on the jarred, organic chicken-tinged apricots for now!

Chicken-Grape Salad & Gruyère Panini

(Note: The quantity of each ingredient in the chicken salad is completely up to your personal taste.)

Chicken, cooked and shredded
Grapes, halved
Walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper
Gruyère cheese, shaved or sliced
Dark rye bread


Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat (375 degrees).

In a small bowl, combine chicken, grapes, walnuts, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

For each sandwich: Spread about 1 cup of chicken salad onto a slice of bread.  Add cheese and top with another slice of bread.  Grill about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is crispy, with grill marks.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. Love chicken and grapes, and would never thought of using leftover Chicken Marbella in a panini. Actually, come to think of it, our Chicken Marbella leftovers don’t last long!

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  2. Lo! wrote:

    I am a sucker for chicken salad with grapes… so this looks perfect.

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  3. HoneyB wrote:

    Another great one Kathy!

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  4. Natasha wrote:

    Never tried grapes in a chicken salad, but it sounds great! After the grilled peach success, this might be the next one of your ideas I try!

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  5. Arlene wrote:

    How funny! I just posted another chicken salad recipe today–this one has grapes and toasted pecans. I’ll bet your panini was delicious, too!

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  6. noble pig wrote:

    It’s like crepes Veronique except with bread! I love it.

    Posted 8.2.08 Reply
  7. grace wrote:

    to me, chicken salad without grapes isn’t chicken salad at all. there must be grapes! 🙂
    great sammich, as usual.

    Posted 8.3.08 Reply
  8. Dragon wrote:

    A great use of leftovers. Gruyere cheese is one of my favourties. Yum!

    Posted 8.3.08 Reply
  9. Jude wrote:

    Sounds great. I don’t have a press but I’m sure I’ll manage with 2 screaming hot cast iron pans.

    Posted 8.3.08 Reply
  10. Kevin wrote:

    That is one tasty looking sandwich!

    Posted 8.3.08 Reply
  11. Jenny wrote:

    Mmmm, what a great looking sandwich! Love chicken salad with grapes.

    Posted 8.3.08 Reply
  12. Katie B. wrote:

    Yum – sounds lovely!! I can’t remember the last time I had actual grapes in my chicken salad (as I don’t often make it at home), but it is certainly a fond memory of my childhood! 🙂

    Posted 8.5.08 Reply
  13. sharon wrote:

    Glad the grapes worked out! I’ve never had a chicken salad panini but I’d imagine it’d be absolutely delicious.

    Posted 8.5.08 Reply
  14. dak0 wrote:

    First time I see a combination of chicken and grape, but I definitely got to try it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    I’m also a Elise fan.

    Posted 3.22.11 Reply