My original Bog Brains recipe tastes like Green Goddess dressing but unfortunately, not everyone likes Green Goddess! So, this is a pared-down version of green macaroni & cheese. It's not as complex but it's still delicious and of course, perfect for Halloween!
1 pound box of cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (you can also use elbows or rotini)
1-10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, completely defrosted
1 TBS oil (I prefer olive oil but grapeseed, canola or other neutral-flavored oil works)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
¼ cup milk
2 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS flour
2 cups milk
½ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup grated Italian blend cheese
¼ - ½ tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.
Meanwhile, place the spinach in a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Draw up the ends of the towel and twist, squeezing out as much of the water as possible. Set aside.
Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the spinach and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Place the spinach into a food processor or blender and pulse. Add the cubes of cream cheese and the ¼ cup milk. Pulse until well-combined. Remove the mixture from the processor and set aside.
Heat a large skillet on medium. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes to remove the raw taste from the flour. Slowly add the milk, whisking the entire time. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until thickened.
Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in bit-by-bit the spinach mixture, Parmesan, and the Italian blend cheese until the cheeses are melted and the sauce is smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and the ¼ tsp of garlic powder.
Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and fold it in until well-combined. Check for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, and garlic powder if needed.
1) Serve the pasta as is.
2) Place the pasta in individual bowls or one large bowl and gently push it down with a spatula. Wait a minute or two. Then place a plate on top of the bowl. Carefully flip the bowl and plate upside down. Remove the bowl. The pasta should be roughly brain-shaped. Using the edge of the spatula or a butter knife, push down an indentation in the center of the pasta to represent the two hemispheres of the brain. To further gore-ify the Bog Brains, add a few thin strips of roasted red peppers to separate the hemispheres.
3) Place the pasta in a casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.