Great Sandwich Fillings

We all have our favorite sandwich fillings: tender ham with lettuce and mustard; roast beef and horseradish; egg and watercress or the classic BLT of bacon, lettuce, and tomato. But with a little imagination you can transform the humble sandwich into a mouthwatering creation.

Instead of butter or margarine, try spreading bread with mayonnaise or a little pesto, a smear of powerful tapenade or sun-dried tomato paste, or some new and delicious chutney.

Here are six creative fillings that combine unusual ingredients.

Hummus and Natural Dates
Toast a pita bread lightly on each side, then slit it open. Spread hummus on both sides of the interior and push in four or five split and stoned natural dates and some chopped fresh coriander leaves to make a vegan sandwich.

Peanut Butter With Cranberries
Spread two slices of granary bread thickly with crunchy peanut butter. Top one slice lightly with cranberry sauce, bought or homemade, then add a generous topping of shredded iceberg lettuce mixed with chopped celery. Season to taste with salt and pepper and place the second slice of bread on top.

Brie With Grapes
Cut a baguette into two or three pieces and cut each one open lengthwise, stopping just short of cutting all the way through. Thinly slice some well-ripened Brie and pack it into the unbuttered lengths of the baguette, squashing the cheese down slightly. Grind some black pepper over the cheese. Halve some seedless grapes, either ruby or green, or a mixture of both and lay them on top. Fold the tops of the baguettes over the filling and decorate each serving plate with a small cluster of grapes.

Smoked Salmon With Cucumber and Cream Cheese
Split a bread roll or bagel in half and toast it for a minute on each side. Spread one half with plain cream cheese, arrange slices of smoked salmon in folds on top and cover the salmon with wafer-thin slices of cucumber and a sprinkling of chopped dill. Add some fresh-ground pepper and top the sandwich with the remaining piece of bread.

Turkey, Avocado, and Pesto
Split four large croissants in half and spread the cut surfaces evenly with a little pesto. Thinly slice an avocado and arrange the slices over one half of each croissant. Top with some wafer-thin slices of turkey, scrunching them up slightly, and arrange a few strips of drained sun-dried tomatoes over the turkey. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper, press the two halves of each croissant together and serve.

Mashed Raspberry and Banana
Finally, for a great sweet filling, toast slices of brioche or raisin bread and fill them with banana mashed with a few raspberries (these can be fresh or thawed from frozen).

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