WALLA WALLA TABLE - Make fresh, local food the focus


When we began talking with the U-B about doing a regular column in The Walla Walla Valley Weekly, we felt it was time that the Valley had its own, home grown and regionally-focused column on food and wine.

Why, you may ask?

Because our community is changing. And we can all embrace changes in our food and lifestyle to better reflect a commitment to our community and its continued prosperity.

In a nutshell, we think that Walla Walla needs a food column that is locally focused so that our community can learn and grow together.

Too many families are facing tough choices on food-related issues, trying to make ends meet.

Many people I know think that cooking is difficult and time consuming.

And far too many people I know think that if it says "healthy" or "organic" or "lowfat" that it's good for you, when sometimes it's not!

With knowledge comes power and we want our community to have as much knowledge as possible so that they can make smart choices when feeding themselves and their families.

So here goes!

We want to give you a place to learn about what foods are available regionally and globally.

We want to share what people are drinking here and why it is important.

We want to tell Walla Walla all about what's fresh in any given season, what's local and where to find it, and what's new and exciting around the Valley.

Along with the new, we'll acknowledge the wealth of amazing, long-standing treasures and traditions at our fingertips in Walla Walla as well.

We'll share recipes, stories and our favorite foods and drinks. And we want YOU to share too.

If there is something you want to see, let us know.

Did you enjoy the preparation of a particular ingredient in a restaurant dish and want to try some variations at home?

Let us know and we'll help you figure out how and print it here so we can all share in the unique, regional food that our Valley has to offer.

Each week we hope to relate a recipe, food story or beverage review and to include your comments and suggestions, where appropriate.

Now, for this week's recipe.

Pasta is one of Americas favorite foods.

Each of us eats about 4+ lbs. of pasta per year on average, but we are eating it at night as a main course, when it was intended to be a starter or filler for poor families who had little money to spend on meat (meat was expensive before modern "farming").

One of my favorite recipes for pasta is Bolognese, which is actually the meat ragu (thick sauce) that is the condiment for the pasta.

This recipe is one I get requests for all the time. Enjoy!

Pasta Bolognese


  • 1/2 lb. each:
  • Ground beef
  • Ground pork
  • Ground lamb or veal (we use lamb)
  • 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes (we prefer the San Marzano)
  • 1 onion, fine dice
  • 3 carrots, fine dice
  • 4 celery stalks, fine dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup dry white wine, preferably unoaked
  • 1 cup chopped pancetta or bacon
  • 2 TBSP herbs de provence without lavender, freshly ground (we use a mortar and pestle).
  • 1 to 2 pkgs. of dried long pasta such as linguini (1pkg. for every four adults)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Note: Salt should be added sparingly until just prior to serving as liquid will reduce and intensify the flavors.
  • Fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • Parmiggiano reggiano cheese for garnish.


In a heavy, deep sauce pan (5 to 7 qt.) over high heat brown all meats except pancetta/bacon.

To keep meat from sticking we add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil before adding meat. Make sure that your pan is HOT before adding oil or meat or browning will be an issue. Reduce heat if smoking occurs.

Once all meat is evenly browned, remove from pan with slotted or perforated spoon, leaving fat.

Remove half to ¾ of the fat. Add bacon/pancetta and brown reducing heat if smoking occurs. Remove bacon/pancetta once browned. Add carrots, celery, onion.

DO NOT STIR. The key here is to caramelize your root vegetables so that the sweetness comes out and enhances the depth of flavor. Shake pan every five minutes to see how browning is coming along.

Once caramelized, add garlic, tomato paste, stir and allow to caramelize. DO NOT BURN GARLIC. Once tomato paste has achieved a bit of caramelization (2 to 3 minutes) add wine to deglaze, being sure to scrape bottom of pan to remove browned bits, a.k.a. good stuff. Add meat back to pan (not bacon, that's for you to munch on while cooking or add to a salad). Stir.

Add tomatoes and any juice from cans. Lower heat to low simmer and continue to stir. Add salt, pepper and herbs as necessary EXCEPT nutmeg. Continue to stir and adjust seasoning as necessary, remembering that this needs to simmer for at least ¬? hour.

As it sits the taste will intensify, so add salt cautiously. Stir. Just prior to finish, add 1/8 tsp (I don't measure so this is a best guess, add more if you want) fresh nutmeg.

Add milk and stir.

Boil pasta. When pasta is still slightly undercooked (crunchy on the inside) remove from water.

Add pasta, along with 1 ladle full of pasta water to a large saut?© pan.

Add 2 to 3 ladles of sauce.

Over medium heat combine pasta, sauce and pasta water.

When pasta is al dente (still slightly firm, but not crunchy on the inside) plate.

For a portion you only need 2 to 4 ounces of pasta per person.

Add one to two large tablespoons of sauce to each portion.

Garnish with fresh shaved or grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese. Serve.

Damon Burke and wife Colby own Salumiere Cesario, an award-winning gourmet grocery in downtown Walla Walla. Send your comments and questions to: wallawallatable@gmail.com.


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