Recipe Cappon Magro – Skinny Capon

Cappon Magro – Franco Pecchio CC BY 2.0

Cappon Magro – Skinny Capon

Cappon Magro is a typical Ligurian dish of vegetables and boiled fish seasoned with a green sauce on parsley, pine nuts, anchovies, capers, and oil. Although shrimp was born as a poor dish to recycle the leftovers, countless recipes exist. It’s good with a Vermentino or Pigato or, why not, with a more refined wine like Coteaux de l’Aubance.


Step 1:
3/4 lb. sea biscuits
One pinch of salt
One clove garlic
Two tbs. vinegar

Step 2: 1 cauliflower
12 oz. string beans
Four celery stalks
Two carrots
One bunch of red beets
1/2 lb. potatoes
Two bunches of bitterroot
1 cup olive oil
Two tbs. wine vinegar
Six artichokes

Step 3:
One lb. lobster
juice of 1 lemon
l 1/2 lbs. sea bass
14 oz. olive oil

Step 4:
24 medium-size prawns
Eight eggs
12 anchovy fillets
Eight oz. mushrooms in olive oil
24 oysters
24 large green olives
2 oz. tuna roe (or another air-dried fish fillet that is not salty)
Two tbs. capers
Six tbs. olive oil

Step 5:
One bunch parsley
Two hard-boiled egg yolks
One clove garlic
3 slices crustless bread
Four tbs. pine nuts
Six large pitted black olives
1 oz. capers
1 cup olive oil
Four anchovy fillets
Six tbs. wine vinegar

How to make Cappon Magro:

The original recipe is still used today to prepare a true cappon Magro—Genoa’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner specialty. Today cappon magro can be tasted in some Ligurian restaurants, though it usually must be reserved in advance. To prepare cappon magro:

Step 1:
Brush the sea biscuits with salt, dip in the water with vinegar and salt for a few seconds, and pat excess dry water. Set aside.

Step 2:
Cook the vegetable whole and separately, except for the artichokes. Remove from fire and cool. Peel and slice the beets and potatoes; dice the rest of the vegetables. Slice and cook the artichokes. When done, remove from heat and cool. Dress all the vegetables separately with oil, vinegar, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3:
Poach, bone, and crumble the bass and dress with oil, lemon, and salt. Do the same with the lobster and set aside.

Step 4:
Poach the prawns and set them aside. Hard boil the eggs, calm, and quarter. Make 12 skewers alternating two olives, two shrimps, two anchovy fillets. Set aside.

Slice the air-dried fish very thinly. Mix the capers and the mushrooms separately. Oen the oysters and shell them. Set all the ingredients aside individually.

Step 5 – Topping Sauce:
Place all the ingredients into a food processor, mix well to get a fluid consistency. Set aside.

Step 6 – Preparation and Presentation:
Take a large round or oval platter and start with the sea biscuits flat on the platter. Sprinkle with olive oil; add a few thin slices of air-dried fish and dress with a 2-3 tbs. of the sauce.

Next, carry on layering all ingredients taking a little bit of each at a time, placing the vegetables first, then the fish, the capers, and the mushrooms. Finally, add some sauce to each layer and carry on until all ingredients are used. As you build up, the final shape should be like a dome or a pyramid.

Top the whole with sauce and decorate with the skewers previously prepared. Circle the mold base with oysters topped with green sauce and serve.

Serves 4-6

Cappon Magro – Skinny Capon is a typical recipe from Liguria

Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

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