We had recently gone to LaRosa’s Pizzeria for dinner. Initially I was reluctant to go there since I dread the overloaded pizzas of chain pizzerias, but to my pleasant surprise, the food was good.
LaRosa’s is a local chain of pizzerias, started in the western side of the Cincinnati, Ohio from one shop and now almost to 60 pizzerias in ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. I would not categorize it in the “oh my gosh, yumz” kinda pizzeria but better than all the others like Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Donatos. A decent meal for a decent buck.
One thing that caught my eye from their menu was their focaccia sauce. Unheard of, I asked curiously about it and the guy waiting on us, told us that it is the LaRosa’s signature sauce with strong garlic flavor and a blend of béchamel and marinara. It sounded like music to my ears and I ordered a crispy pan pizza with focaccia sauce and less mozarella cheese with Veges. Boy, did I make the right choice? Absolutely! Amit doesn’t like béchamel sauce and I am not a big Mariana lover so this sauce was the perfect marriage. It was garlicky, silken and smooth, not too thick like béchamel and not too sour like marinara. Just Perfect!
Few days ago, I was cooking pasta for dinner and thought of recreating the sauce for pasta. I am not sure how accurate it is to the original recipe, but it was delicious and much closer. Here is how I did it!
Kitchen Equipments Required : a big stir fry pan or wok (stainless steel preferably), a deep sauce pan, whisk, spatula, colander, chopping board, knife, bowl.
For Focaccia Sauce :
Butter : 1&1/2 tbsp
Garlic : 1 tbsp, fresh and minced or grated
All purpose flour or Corn starch : 2&1/2 tbsp
Milk : 1&1/2 cup
Marinara or Pasta Sauce : 1 cup
Salt and black pepper to taste
For Pasta :
Oil : 1 tbsp
Bow tie or Farfalle Pasta : 3 cups cooked.
Onion : 1 small, thinly sliced
Broccoli florets : 1 cup, chopped small
Bell peppers/ capsicums : 1 cup, sliced thin and cut in 2-3 inch pieces
Basil : 7-8 leaves fresh or 1 tsp dried
Thyme : 1 sprig fresh or 1/2 tsp dried
Salt, black pepper powder and red chili flakes to taste
- Boiling the Pasta : Take a deep sauce pan and keep the pasta for boiling as per packet instructions. Boil al dente and strain and reserve the pasta water for later. Wash the pasta in cold water to stop further cooking.
Prepping the vegetables : Take the big stir fry pan or wok. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in it. Add onion and sauté on medium flame, till pink for 3-4 minutes. Add broccoli and and bell peppers. Cook while stirring often on medium flame for 5 minutes till they look slightly softened. Don’t over cook or else the limp vegetables don’t give good texture to the pasta. Switch off the gas, and keep the cooked vegetables in a bowl, aside.
Focaccia Sauce : Take the stainless steel big frying pan or wok. Add the butter and melt it on lower medium heat. Don’t boil it. Add garlic to it and sauté the butter and garlic for 1 minute on low.
Now add the all purpose flour or corn starch to the pan. Cook the flour with butter and garlic on low flame for another 1&1/2 to 2 minutes, while stirring continuously to avoid burning.
Now slowly pour the milk to the pan, in a thin stream with one hand, while whisking the flour with milk with a whisk in the other hand. It should be a vigorous movement to avoid any lump formation. When finished adding milk, keep stirring with the whisk and cook on slow for 3-4 minutes. It will thicken.
Now add marinara sauce to it and mix well with spatula or whisk/ heat it through.
If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time. Keep the gas stove on low. Add salt and black pepper, to taste. Sauce is ready.
- Assembling : In the pan with the sauce, add pasta and cooked vegetables. Add basil and thyme. Adjust salt and black pepper. If you like a bit spicy like me, add crushed red peppers. Toss everything together on low heat and voila a pasta in focaccia sauce is ready. If you like a little runny sauce, then add more of the pasta water to make it to your desired consistency.
Have fun cooking pasta for your next meal in a super stunning sauce!