Penne for Your 
Thoughts? Try This Brain
Boosting Pasta!

By: Samantha Suarez - Blogger

That’s right — a dish where eating pasta is good for you! Sounds too good to be true, right? But we totally aren’t kidding. To recap, Neurocore has collaborated with 10 talented chefs to bring you 10 recipes that are delicious, easy enough for you to make at home and healthy for your brain. How is what you eat related to your brain, you ask? Think about it this way: just like eating rich or oily food can make you feel sluggish (A.K.A. drift into a food coma), certain foods can also make you feel more energetic and focused. In some cases, you may even be able to prevent mental issues like Alzheimer’s, dementia and brain inflammation!

Today, we’re giving you Brain Food Recipe #7 by Chef Ryan Martin of Osteria Rossa. So come along for the ride and you can say “pasta la vista” to that foggy head!

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate and Short Rib Ragu


  • 2.5 lbs. boneless short ribs
  • 1/2 c. carrots, minced
  • 1/2 c. white onion, minced
  • 1 c. celery, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 1 c. really strong coffee
  • 2 1/2 c. beef stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil. Sear short ribs on both sides and remove from pan.
  4. Add minced carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Cook until all the liquid from the vegetables is gone and vegetables start to brown.
  5. Add red wine and coffee and reduce by half.
  6. Add tomato juice and cocoa. Stir until everything is incorporated.
  7. Return the short ribs to the pot and add beef broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 hours or until the short ribs pull apart easily with a fork.
  8. Once the short ribs are done, remove pot from the oven. Shred the short ribs. Stir in the chocolate until melted and fully incorporated.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  10. Add the mixture to cooked pasta. Shave some parmesan on top. Enjoy!


Dark Chocolate

Picture of dark chocolate

Recent research indicates that flavanol, which dark chocolate is rich in, may improve your mood, alleviate depression and reduce memory loss in seniors. It also contains antioxidants that may prevent brain inflammation. So channel your inner Willy Wonka! Remember: The darker the chocolate (the greater percent cacao), the better for you it is.


Picture of coffee and coffee grounds.

This probably comes to no surprise to anyone, but nevertheless: Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can help improve your alertness, attention and concentration (depending on the level of intake.) According to the European Food Safety Authority, the recommended dose is 75 mg of caffeine, which is the amount in a regular cup of coffee. So if you have an espresso on your mind, get your daily grind on with some of that magical brown liquid!


Picture of red wine

According to a study of over 1,400 subjects who were ages 65 and above, having a glass of wine every now and then could help prevent cognitive decline! Darn, where did I put my glasses again? Maybe a glass of Merlot will help me remember.


A 2010 study by the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign suggests that due to a compound called luteolin, celery can lower the rate of memory loss and prevent brain inflammation… So if you want to remember and celery-brate the good times, snack on these!

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in Vitamin E, which may prevent mental decline, and Vitamin K, which is thought to boost your brain processing speed.


GIF of Chef Ryan Martin shaving parmesan on top of his brain food recipe

Ryan describes his cooking style as simple, seasonal, and clean. “I don’t like to overcomplicate things,” he explains, “I just like to make food taste good.” He truly does encapsulate the soul in Osteria Rossa’s tagline: “Warmth of the Mitten, Soul of the Boot,” as demonstrated in his bold decision to mix chocolate and short rib ragu on pasta. Spending an hour in his kitchen with his staff was like hanging out with a group of old friends. There was a lot of goofing around and even a random batch of fried chicken to be shared! His earliest exposure to cooking was through his grandmother, who let him use a knife for the first time to chop up walnuts for a cake she was baking. So you can thank Grandma Martin for the existence of this delicious pasta recipe!


Why did you choose those particular brain food ingredients?

"Once I saw chocolate and coffee on your brain food list, it kind of reminded me of this dish I always wanted to do but didn’t think I could pull off! I wanted to try a chocolate pasta with like an oxtail ragu. Especially being from an Italian restaurant, I wanted to do a pasta dish. I also saw whole grains on there so I used whole grains to make the pasta. And then garnished it with pumpkin seeds for texture!"

Wow, chocolate and meat in a pasta! That’s bold. Tell us more.

"Chocolate seems like an odd thing to cook with as far as savory dishes goes, but it’s really not when you look at different cultures, like in Mexican and Aztec dishes. Chocolate and chilies go together! So it made sense. I thought I could sub out the richness that you would get with adding cream or butter to a dish and use that with dark chocolate instead."

What’s your favorite food-related movie?

"I really like 'Ratatouille.' I was reading the other interviews and wondered how no one else has said it yet! I’ve probably watched it a dozen times. He’s so cute!"

What’s the last thing you cooked for yourself?

"A beef wellington over Christmas for me and my roommates."

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

"I like terrible TV [laughs]... Like 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' and 'Keeping up With the Kardashians.'"


Ryan was in a band and even traveled around on tour! That’s right, ladies. He cooks and is in a band. 

Hobbies outside of cooking?

"During fall, summer and spring, I do a lot of foraging for mushrooms and different edible plants. It’s fun to get out in the woods and walk around for a few hours, find different things and identify them."

Last meal on Earth?

Picture of Chef Ryan Martin holding up a whiteboard sign saying his last meal on earth would be his mother's perfectly overcooked pork chops and rice

"My mother's perfectly overcooked pork chops & rice."

Submit your name for Chef Patrick Conrade's Brain Food Recipe!

Enter a creative name for this dish in the form below and you could win a $50 gift card to Trader Joe’s!

The entry period has ended and the winning recipe name is: Chef Martin's Maximized Mind Feast

Want more recipes that will boost your brain and make your tummy smile?

Brain Food Recipes

Curious to know how you can have a healthier mind outside of eating these brain foods? Visit

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