A Midwest version of shrimp and fried green tomatoes.

We tend to think of fried green tomatoes as a Southern food, but they’re not exclusively so. In fact, for gardeners like us here in the Midwest, this is a tasty way to use up those tomatoes hanging unripe on the vine at the end of the season. This week, I picked several enormous green Beefsteak tomatoes right before the frost zapped them. Last night, dredged in cornmeal and fried in a cast-iron skillet, they became the base for a traditional Low-country-style dish.

I adapted a recipe for fried green tomatoes from Martha Stewart Living, substituting egg whites for the whole egg. I find that the latter produces a breading that’s too, well, eggy for my taste. Rob and I concocted the recipe for spicy pepper shrimp in cream sauce on the fly. (Sorry, folks: no photos. We were too busy eating.)

spicy shrimp over fried green tomatoes
serves 2

for the tomatoes:
1 very large or 2 medium green tomatoes
2 egg whites
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. Pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) or a pinch of cayenne

Slice the tomatoes 1/2 inch thick, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Stir together cornmeal and Pimenton. Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Heat 1/2 cup of canola or vegetable oil in a deep skillet (cast iron is best). When oil is hot (test by dropping a pinch of cornmeal in the pan; if it sizzles, the oil is ready), dip the tomato slices in egg white, then in cornmeal, and place immediately in the skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate; serve ASAP.

for the shrimp:
12 Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 clove of garlic, chopped
pinch of Pimenton
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. cream
2 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable broth

In a nonstick skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat; add bell pepper and sauté until beginning to soften and brown, about 7–8 minutes. Add garlic and Pimenton and cook for about a minute. Add wine and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until nicely pink on the bottom, about 3–4 minutes; turn and cook another 2 minutes. Add cream, boil until sauce is slightly thickened and shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 minute more.

For each serving, plate 2 fried green tomatoes, and top with 6 shrimp and a generous spoon of pepper sauce.

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