I was inspired by a very delicious acorn squash recipe from one of a friend and aspiring HKC (who unfortunately moved cross country grrrr)- AND that infamous scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Faux Monkey Brains! Special HALLOWEEN Recipe!
- 4 acorn squash Small ish ones work best, be sure they are fully ripe
- 8 pepperoni organic (I love the pepperoni from Applegate Farms)
- 1 sea salt himalayan
- 1 pn black pepper Fresh Ground
- 1/4 Cup walnut meal I just crushed walnut halves in the bottom of a bowl. TAKE THAT, stress!
- 1/4 Cup water
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil or bacon grease
- 1 Tbsp Italian spice blend Of course I use the one from my friends at Winter Park Spice and Tea Exchange, you can also use equal amounts of dried basel and oregano
- 1 Cup tomatoes crushed (I like the Pomi brand tomatos that come in a box, but don't let me stop you from peeling and de-seeding your own.)
- 1 Lb organic, grassfed ground beef
- Seeing this scene as a kid had me feeling totally grossed out and at the same time, juuuuuuuust a little bit curious... After seeing Katie's cool recipe inspired by a diner that serves everything in acorn squash (Visit her blog: Primal Homeskillet), I thought it would be really fun to make a Halloween dish. Of course you could get really creative and decorate the outside of the squash to look more "monkey head like" after baking - especially if you're making this for a small group of friends. Pretty sure kids would like this - it tastes kind of like pizza/lasagna depending on how you choose to use the optional ingredients. You can also prepare the squash and meatball "brains" one day ahead so that all you have to do is assemble and bake them off for guests. (That's for you, Mom, I know how we both love partial or complete make-aheads!)
- Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F
- I selected a "carnival" variant of the usual organic acorn squash just for fun - this will work great with any small acorn squash.
- Chop off the very tip of the bottom of the squashes so that they will sit flat in the baking dish. Make sure to not cut TOO much off the bottom or your "monkey brain" may fall out later! We can't have that - its the ultimate party foul.
- Next you will want to cut the "lid" make sure you cut enough so that you have access to the seeds inside, but not so much that you cut it in half. You also need to be able to fit the meatball inside!
- Scoop out all the seeds and stringy stuff on the inside of the squash, again being VERY careful not to break the fragile bottom of the "monkey head" 🙂 You can also scoop out a little bit of the squash if you feel like the "brain" may not fit inside. Or if you are planning to put a lot of filling items inside. After coating the squashes inside with coconut oil or bacon grease, place the squashes and "lids" in a baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake for approx 20 minutes - this is a sort of "par baking" so you don't want to obliterate them. You may also want to remove the "lids" at 15 minutes and set them aside if they are especially thin and/or cook quickly. While the squash are baking, its time to make the meat balls, erm, I mean... MONKEY BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!
- Place the walnut meal, or in my case pulverized walnuts in the bottom of a medium bowl. Add 1 lb ground beef (grass fed makes the best monkey brains you've ever had), along with salt and pepper, 1/2 tablespoon Italian spice blend, 1/4 cup water. Mix with your clean hands and form into 4 equal sized round meatballs. I was going to give them 2 lobes, but I know how you guys think and I didn't want to hear any monkey butt jokes! When the acorn squash has vacated the oven set them aside to cool and put the meatballs in the oven for approx 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of a meatball reaches 145 Degrees Remember that food thermometer I told you to buy? Now's the time to use it! 🙂
- OK, at this point you have a choice - you can finish the recipe, or you can let everything cool for a bit and store it in the refrigerator to prepare fully for guests tomorrow.
- As you can see I just made "monkey brains for one" and I also... sampled one of the brains to make sure the seasoning was correct 🙂 They are very good. I hope you think so too!
- As you can also see in the photo, the bottom of the squash has a small hole in it and is pretty weak. For added flavor and stability, I decided to add a slice of that Applegate Farms Organic Pepperoni to the bottom - the slices are large, so adding some slits in it assured a perfect and structurally sound fit:
- The pepperoni also adds even more flavor - but keep this in mind when adding salt to the next few ingredients.
- I chose to add a little bit of goat cheese and Italian seasoning to the bottom as well - optional but delicious!
- In the medium bowl that I hope you already washed out, make the sauce - I used a coffee cup since I was just making enough for a single serving of "monkey brains" but you'll likely need more space. Add in 1 cup crushed tomatoes, the rest of the Italian spice blend, salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir well then add a little to the bottom of each squash
- Place a meatball "brain" on top and if you are using cheese, stuff a little around the sides, but leave room for more sauce - we want these to come out of the oven bubbling.
- I added a slice of pepperoni to the inside of the "lid" and "glued" it down with of course...
- with MORE goat cheese.
- After baking for 20-25 minutes - or maybe a little longer if you were impatient and didn't wait for the formerly refrigerated goods to come up to room temp... carefully remove the bubbling hot monkey heads to your chosen serving vessel.