I came across this unlikely dish when I was asked to write a week of recipes to complement teams in the World Cup. Its actual name is Tallarines Chalacos and owes its heritage to a time when Italy occupied Paraguay. My version adds chopped tomato, giving a fresh juiciness to the baked spaghetti sandwich of quickly fried white fish with chilli-flecked, slippery-soft red pepper and onion. It is possibly the oddest sounding gratin I’ve come across but I cannot recommend it highly enough. Serve it with green beans.
Serves 4, generously
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min
2 medium-large onions, approx 200g
4 tbsp olive oil
2 pointed red peppers, approx 250g
3 vine tomatoes, approx 250g
8 lemon sole fillets, approx 400g
1 tsp dried crushed chillies
4 tbsp grated Parmesan
Peel, halve and finely chop the onions. Soften in 3 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Stir often so they cook evenly. Halve the peppers lengthways, slice into strips and then into small dice. Stir into the onions. Add the chilli and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slippery soft. Tip into a bowl. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, count to 30, drain, peel and halve. Scrape out the seeds and chop the flesh. Slice the fish fillets into 2 or 3 pieces. Pat dry. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and briefly fry the fish on both sides in batches until just cooked. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water. Drain. Spread two thirds of the spaghetti in a 2 litre capacity gratin-style dish. Spread the pepper mixture over the top and arrange the fish in a single layer. Add the tomato. Arrange the remaining spaghetti over the top to make a thin layer. Dredge with Parmesan. Bake in a hot oven – 200C/gas mark 6 – for 20-25 minutes until Parmesan and some of the top layer of spaghetti is crusty and golden.