First Date Lemon Rosemary Chicken Sandwich

About a decade ago, I married my husband. But before the wedding, we had to meet and go on a first date. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I started my day with yoga overlooking Lake Washington then went to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum and have lunch at Soundview Café in Pike Place Market. A very nice way to spend a summer day in the Pacific Northwest, but made very memorable because of my company. This carved wood counter is outside the café where we had our first date lunch.

Love Carvings

Anniversaries can be marked with great fanfare, rich romance, or sweet sentimentality and in all cases, for me, good food is a must. Thinking back to the foods we ate those first days as we dated and fell in love, the Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Sandwiches we ate on our first date always bubble to the top of my favorite list.


To celebrate our anniversary, I am sharing how I make the sandwiches inspired by those we ate that very first date (serves two). Here it is…

First Date Lemon Rosemary Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Aïoli

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
Dash of salt and pepper, to taste
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (you can substitute roasted red pepper if you’d prefer)
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half top/bottom (can be regular or seasoned with baked-in olives, herbs, or cheese)

1. In a container with a lid, stir together the Aïoli ingredients. Once blended, cover with lid and refrigerate for up to four days. It is ready to use straight from the container (use a clean spoon).

2. On to the sandwich preparation now. In an oven-safe baking dish, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary leaves, salt and pepper then add the chicken breasts. Stir the contents to gently coat the chicken with the lemon marinade. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to 8 hours).

3. When ready to cook the chicken, place the baking dish in an oven preheated to 350F/175C and bake for 30-50 minutes (check temperature of meat after 30 minutes to avoid overcooking).

4. Let the chicken rest outside the oven for 2 minutes before starting to put the sandwich together. Then spread a dollop of the Aïoli on both halves of the two ciabatta rolls. Place the chicken on the bottom half and top with a few thin slices of red onion and red pepper then two slices of Swiss cheese. Do this with both sandwiches and add additional Aïoli to taste.

5. Serve alongside fruit salad or the tummy-fluttering gazes of a first date.


What was your most memorable date meal?



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