Grilled sandwiches you could flip over

Fillings: Why not be adventurous and add meat and fruit to that cheesy concoction?

February 23, 2000|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

A grilled cheese sandwich must rank high among the first foods people learn to cook. It requires only bread, butter and cheese, and who doesn't have these few items in the kitchen?

It takes so little skill. If you can slice bread and top it with cheese, you're halfway there. The only challenging aspect to the sandwich is flipping it over in the skillet. Make a grilled cheese sandwich, and you're assured of a hot meal.

But at some point you may want to get a little more adventurous.

Change the cheese. Substitute Swiss, Edam or Gouda cheese. Each has a nutty flavor that is excellent heated.

Add meat. Croque monsieur, the French version of grilled cheese, consists of ham and cheese. Croque madame uses chicken and cheese.

Give up the squishy white bread. Rye bread is great grilled. It has an earthy aroma and full flavor. Egg bread tastes even sweeter in a grilled cheese sandwich, and a robust sourdough bread is sturdy enough for anything you can pack inside.

Add fruit. It's unexpected, but excellent. Fruit adds moisture to a sandwich. It complements most cheeses and ham products. Pair apples with ham and Cheddar or Gruyere; match pears with Cheddar or buttery Gorgonzola. Add arugula for bite and you've got more than a grilled cheese sandwich for little more effort.

Pear, Cheese and Arugula Sandwich

Serves 1

2 (1/2-inch-thick) slices egg or whole-wheat bread

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 small, ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced

2 ounces thinly sliced sharp Cheddar or Gorgonzola cheese

4 to 6 arugula leaves

Place 1 slice bread on work surface. Spread with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Arrange pear slices over butter, adding just enough to completely cover bread. Top with cheese slices, then arugula leaves. Add second slice bread.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Gently ease sandwich into skillet. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Gently turn sandwich over and cook, uncovered, until cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet. Using sharp knife, cut sandwich in half. Serve immediately.

Grilled Ham, Cheese and Apple Sandwich

Serves 1

2 (1/2-inch-thick) slices egg or semolina bread

2 teaspoons honey mustard

2 slices ham or Canadian bacon

1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and very thinly sliced

1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar or Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon butter

Place 1 slice bread on work surface. Spread with honey mustard. Arrange ham slices over bread. Arrange apple slices over ham, adding just enough to completely cover ham. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with second slice of bread. Press down.

Melt butter in small skillet. Gently ease sandwich into skillet. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes.

Gently turn sandwich over and cook, uncovered, until cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from skillet. Using sharp knife, cut sandwich in half. Serve immediately.

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