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Cappon magro recipe

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Cappon magro ricetta pinit

Cappon magro is one of the best-loved recipes in the Ligurian gastronomic tradition.
It is prepared in Genoese kitchens especially during the Christmas festivities, given the complexity of making it.
This is also the main reason why it has become one of the most popular dishes in restaurants and trattorias that still offer it on their menus.

In reality, there are different versions of it, varying according to family tradition: the products used are many and each home-made recipe has a different list of ingredients depending on what has been handed down. One of these ingredients, among the most particular, is the galletta del marinaio: a typical Genoese bakery product that you hardly ever find around, but on our e-commerce you can!!! (click here!).

Historians of Ligurian cuisine agree on one thing: the cappon magro originated as a dish linked to the Lenten period, where recipes are often made ‘lean’, i.e. without meat, dairy products and animal fats. While there are several theories about its origins, particularly on the use of the word ‘cappon’. Some scholars claim that the term has a symbolic meaning, in contrast to the ‘castrated chicken’ dish that was present on the Christmas table of wealthy families in past centuries. Others claim that it refers to an ancient fish recipe of the same name. The most realistic version is that it derives from the seafaring term ‘chapon’, used by Ligurian sailors to refer to a kind of garlic galette.

And even when it comes to the origin of the recipe, the hypotheses are numerous and varied. They start with a version from a few centuries ago, made with vinegar-glazed galette and salted fish, seasoned with oil and a few spices, and go on to a more ‘noble’ one, where green sauce and various vegetables were added.
Then there are the recipes that come from the sea, such as ‘capon de galera’, a meal made from galettes, fish, broad beans and chestnuts that was given to rowers and sailors on the boats of the Genoese Republic. Or those dishes made with the leftovers of the catch from the fishermen’s wives, to be stored during the days at sea.

Coming into the modern era, cappon magro has become one of the signature dishes of Genoese and Ligurian gastronomy. It is a laborious recipe, however, in any of its versions, and is prepared at home, obligatorily for at least 6 to 8 people, almost only around holidays.
It can be made in different ‘forms’ and the ingredients with which it is prepared vary between different groups, such as pieces of fish, vegetables and especially the garnishes. The version we prepare in the local modo21 plays on the contrasting colours of the vegetables and the flavour of the sea. Absolutely not to be missed!

Cappon magro ricetta pinit
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Cappon magro recipe

Difficulty: Advanced Preparation time 1 hour Rest time 4 hour Total time 5 hrs
Best season: Suitable throughout the year


Ingredienti per il cappon magro

Ingredients for the salsa verde (already calculated in the first ingredient list)


  1. How to make salsa verde

    Put the parsley, half a clove of garlic, pine nuts, 25 grams capers, two salted anchovies, two hard-boiled egg yolks, some breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar, and 6 pitted olives together in the blender. After each whisk, add a little olive oil (about one glass in total) until you have the consistency of a sauce. Adjust the salt and vinegar.

  2. The different cooking processes

    Boil green beans, cauliflower, celery and carrot together. Cook the beets, potatoes and scorzonera separately. When cooked, cut into slices and season in several containers with oil, vinegar and salt. Boil the cut radishes and artichokes (already treated with water and lemon) in water.

    Boil and cut up the fish and lobster, which you season with oil, lemon and salt. The shrimps should be pan-fried while the eggs should be hard-boiled and then cut into quarters.

  3. The remaining ingredients

    We clean and cook the mussels. The anchovies should be desalted, cleaned and split in half lengthways. The mosciamme cut into very thin slices (easily replaceable with bottarga). The sailor's chanterelles to be used must first be rubbed with garlic, then soaked in water, vinegar and salt to soften them.

  4. How to assemble cappon magro

    The cappon magro is a dish that is developed vertically, with the different layers of ingredients one on top of the other. So we take a serving dish and as the first layer we put the sailor's biscuits then the slices of mosciamme (or roe) and then the salsa verde. The salsa verde serves as a frame between each layer. Continue in this way, keeping only the olives, carrots, mussels and shrimps to one side, which will serve to decorate the cappon magro. You can help yourself with a pastry cutter if you want to make single portions or use a lined bowl, remembering in this case that the galettes will be the last to be added as you proceed in reverse order. Remove from the mould after leaving it to rest in the fridge for 4/5 hours.

Parole chiave: cappon magro, Christmas hors d'oeuvres, festive starters, fish starters, Genoese cuisine, Ligurian recipes
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