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Cappon Magro

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Cappon magro or capòn magro is an elaborate and rich Genoese salad of seafood and vegetables over hard tack arranged into a decorative pyramid and dressed with a rich sauce. Cappon magro is a traditional dish for Christmas Eve.

A similar but much less elaborate dish is called capponata in Liguria (cappunadda in Ligurian), capponata in Sardinia, and caponata estiva or caponata di pesce (in Campania). It is a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, bottarga, and dried tuna dressed with olive oil.


Cappon magro means 'fast-day capon'. Since the dish contains no meat, it is suitable for traditional Catholic fast days. 'Capon' may be a wry reference to a rich food for which this fish dish substitutes. Or it may also refer specifically to the biscuit base, comparable to the French 'chapon', a slice of bread rubbed with garlic which is placed in the bottom of a soup or salad bowl. It may also refer to one of the many fish called 'cappone' (perhaps a gurnard or red mullet).


The foundation of a cappon magro is a layer of hard tack biscuits ("gallette") rubbed with garlic and soaked in seawater and vinegar. Then a pyramid is built up layer by layer.

Each layer may consist of one or many vegetables, fishes, or seafoods. All recipes include boiled white fish, a lobster, green beans, celery, carrots, beets, and potatoes. Some authorities insist that black salsify is essential. Other seafoods and vegetables may also be included. Each ingredient is boiled separately, cut up, and seasoned with oil and vinegar. Each layer is dressed with a sort of cross between salsa verde and mayonnaise; it consists of parsley, garlic, capers, anchovies, the yolks of hard-boiled eggs, and green olives ground together in a mortar with olive oil and vinegar. The pyramid is topped with a lobster capped with its coral. The sides of the pyramid ar garnished with green olives, botargo, capers, anchovy filets, crayfish, artichokes, and quartered hard-boiled eggs.

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Cappon magro,

Cappon Magro,