Treccia means "braid" in Italian and, in this instance, refers to strands of fresh mozzarella that have been intertwined. Loosening the braids just a little while topping with sun-kissed cherry tomatoes, plenty of basil and olive-oil croutons, then dousing in tomato, garlic and caper dressing, seems only right to me. I've enjoyed many variations on this theme in southern Italy and, in my view, it makes the perfect side dish. Serve with sliced capocollo, prosciutto or salami.
⅓ loaf of country sourdough, crusts removed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh treccia braids or 2 large fior di latte
½ punnet small yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼ bunch basil, leaves picked
For the tomato vinaigrette
2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp tiny capers
100ml extra virgin olive oil
40ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt flakes
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
1. For the vinaigrette, add all the ingredients to a bowl, stir to combine, then set aside.
2. Heat a medium frying-pan over a medium heat. Tear the bread into rough pieces, each one about the size of a 20-cent piece, and add to the pan. Drizzle with oil and toss for about 10 minutes to toast, then season with salt and pepper and tip into a bowl.
3. Loosen the braids of mozzarella slightly, then arrange on a serving plate.
4. Add the tomatoes to the croutons, season, then toss and tip over the treccia.
5. Spoon the dressing over the salad and finish with the basil.