Recipe Cappon Magro

Cappon Magro – Franco Pecchio CC BY 2.0

Cappon magro is a typical Ligurian dish made of vegetables and boiled fish seasoned with a green sauce based on parsley, pine nuts, anchovies, capers and oil. Despite the shrimp was born as a poor dish to recycle the leftovers, there are countless recipes. 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
1 pinch of salt
1 clove garlic
2 tbs. vinegar

Step 2: 1 cauliflower
12 oz. string beans
4 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 bunch red beets
1/2 lb. potatoes
2 bunches bitter root
1 cup olive oil
2 tbs. wine vinegar
6 artichokes

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

Step 4:
24 medium-size prawns
8 eggs
12 anchovy fillets
8 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)
2 tbs. capers
6 tbs. olive oil

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

How to make Cappon Magro:

This is the original recipe that is still used today if one wants to prepare true cappon magro. Genoa’s traditional Christmas Eve’s 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 water with vinegar and salt for a few seconds, and pat dry excess water. Set aside.

Step 2:
Cook the vegetables 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 aside. Hard boil the eggs, cool and quarter. Make 12 skewers alternating 2 olives, 2 shrimps, 2 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 separately.

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. Add some sauce on each layer and carry on until all ingredients are used. As you build up, the final shape should be like that of a dome or a pyramid.

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

Serves 4-6

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.

You can reach Enrico at