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Grown up gourmet cheese sandwich recipes

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

A long way from cheese and bread

Cheese sandwiches are a fantastic comfort food, but the two slices of white bread and a piece of American cheese can get a little boring. Give your cheese sandwich some grown up gourmet appeal with these inventive cheese sandwich recipes.

Grown up grilled cheese

Gourmet takes on the cheese sandwich

The cheese sandwich. It's a simple enough nosh: bread, some cheese, maybe toasted. And it's pure comfort food. But sometimes, even the cheese sandwich needs to grow up a little. These filling alternatives to the traditional cheese sandwich are a step up from cheese sandwich tradition.

Havarti Cheese and veggie pocket

Serves 1

Some cheeses lend themselves so well to melting. Among them is havarti. When heated, the semi-soft cheese becomes a creamy heaven. In this sandwich, it's paired with antioxidant-rich baby spinach and sweet roasted red peppers for a fresh, filling bite.

Ingredients:
1 pita bread, sliced into two pockets
1 cup baby spinach, divided
1-1/2 ounces havarti cheese slices, divided
2 ounces roasted red pepper, sliced (about one half of a roasted pepper)

Directions:
Stuff each pita half with half of the spinach, havarti and roasted red pepper. Toast in a toaster oven for a few minutes, until cheese melts. Devour.

Note: If desired, drizzle each half with a little good olive oil and sweet, aged balsamic vinegar.

French toasted apple grilled cheese

Serves 1

Rich apple butter and the nutty tanginess of sharp cheddar might not sound like a match made in heaven, but they are in every single way. This sandwich is perfect for a chilly winter day.

Ingredients:
2 slices bread
1/2 tablespoon apple butter
1 ounce sliced extra-sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten well (this can make up to four sandwiches)

Directions:
1. Spread one slice of bread with apple butter. Top with cheddar and the remaining slice of bread.

2. Heat a large skillet on the stove, with the heat set to just below medium.

3. Pour the beaten egg onto a plate. When the skillet is hot, dredge the sandwich in the egg (on both sides of the bread) and place onto the skillet. Remember, you want to dredge, not drench.

4. Place sandwich in skillet and cook, flipping once, until bread is browned on both sides. Serve immediately.

Smoked salmon and brie Cheese 

Serves 1

When it comes to creamy, dreamy cheese, brie takes the cake. Melt it with salty, fresh smoked salmon on a small bagel for a hearty, rich bite. Simple, but totally gourmet and grown up. Serve sandwich with a mesclun salad dressed with a light, tangy vinaigrette for the perfect lunch or light dinner.

Ingredients:
1 mini bagel
1 ounce piece of brie cheese
Smoked salmon

Directions:
1. Slice open the mini bagel. Place the brie inside. Top with a generous amount of smoked salmon.

2. Toast bagel sandwich in the toaster oven until the cheese is softened and slightly melted. Eat immediately.

Black beans, pepper jack and avocado Tortilla Sandwich

Serves 1

Don't call this baby a quesadilla. It might be built on a tortilla, but it's decidedly sandwich-like. Between the creamy, cool avocado slices, the slightly sweet black beans and the bite of the pepper jack, this is perfect for any time of the day - even breakfast.

Ingredients:
1 ounce grated pepper jack cheese
3 tablespoons prepared black beans
1/2 tablespoon salsa
1 fajita-sized tortilla
1/2 avocado, sliced

Directions:
1. Spray a medium-sized skillet with cooking oil and heat over medium heat.

2. Place the tortilla in the pan with half of it extended out of the pan. Quickly sprinkle the tortilla half that is in the pan with 1/3 cheese then spread with black bean mixture.

3. Sprinkle with 1/3 cheese and top with avocado slices. Sprinkle with final 1/3 of the cheese and fold the other side of the tortilla over.

4. Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melty. Let cool slightly before serving.

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