Marco and Luca is one of Derek and my favorite places to eat in Charlottesville, the town where we went to college (and got married). They have about five things on the menu: pork dumplings, cold sesame noodles, some other kind of noodles, hot and sour soup and pork or veggie hot buns. When I first discovered them, they were literally a door in the wall in an alley on the Downtown Mall and you had to order to-go since they didn’t have anywhere to sit. They’ve since expanded and have a handful of locations throughout the Charlottesville area.
Most people go to Marco and Luca’s for the dumplings. And while they are yummy (especially the sauce they are served with), I adore their sesame noodles. Their noodles are extremely simple but oh so satisfying. I’ve been on the search for a comprable cold sesame noodle recipe, and this is it. I like to add tons of veggies to the noodles to round out the dish a bit. The beauty of it is that you can add whatever vegetables suit your fancy. It is also delicious with grilled meat (chicken, pork) or tofu.
for the sauce:
1 small garlic clove
1 (1-inch) piece fresh peeled ginger
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup warm water
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chile flakes (to taste)
for the noodles:
1 pound thin spaghetti or soba noodles
1-2 carrots, julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
2 small kirby cucumbers, julienned
3-4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
Set a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Add the garlic and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and chile flakes and process until smooth. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain and then run under cold water to cool the noodles down. Toss the noodles with the sauce and julienned vegetables and top with green onion and cilantro (if using) before serving.