Place of origin
Region or state
|Seafood, vegetables, hard tack|
|Cookbook:Cappon magro Cappon magro|
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 including Christmas Eve. 'Capon' may be a wry reference to the poultry capon, enjoyed by better off people for Christmas, that this fish dish substitutes. 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 are garnished with green olives, botargo, capers, anchovy filets, crayfish, artichokes, and quartered hard-boiled eggs.
Naples "Caponata Estiva"
The Naples dish called "Caponata Estiva" 'Summer Caponata', "Caponata Napolitana", or "Caponata di Pesce" consists of moistened ring-shaped rusks (friselle or gallette) dressed with oil, salt, garlic, oregano and basil, and topped with sliced tomatoes and possibly tuna. Any number of additional ingredients are optional, including smoked herring, pickled vegetables, olives, capers, anchovies, sardines, hard boiled eggs, very thinly sliced boiled beef, cucumber, carrot, celery.
Cappon magro is a traditional dish for Christmas Eve.
- Touring Club Italiano, Guida all'Italia gastronomica, p. 192
- Waverly Root, The Food of Italy, 1971, ISBN 0-394-72429-1, p. 362
- Gillian Riley, The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, p. 290
- Jeanne C. Francesconi, La Vera Cucina di Napoli, 1995, Newton Editore, Recipe 188
- Arthur Schwartz, Naples at Table, 1998, Harper Collins, New York
- Phillip, Kyle (2008). "Caponata di Pesce". Retrieved 2008-08-27.