The croque monsieur -- literally "mister crunch" -- is at the elegant end of the grilled cheese spectrum. First served in 1910 at a Paris cafe, this ham sandwich with rich bechamel sauce is topped with cheese and then grilled under the broiler.
This recipe rebuilds the salad, reimagining it as crostini: Parmesan and dressed escarole (in place of romaine) are piled on top of white anchovies, which are cured in vinegar and oil and have a mild flavor.
If you don't have pumpkin-pie spice, you can instead use 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon mixed with 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger and nutmeg. It's very important to make sure the bread soaks up the flavorful custard to ensure a velvety consistency.
Red, green, and yellow bell peppers, sauteed with onion and seasonings, are cooled and served with goat-cheese spread on crusty baguettes. The peperonata topping in this recipe can also be tossed with cooked pasta for a light summer dinner.