Excerpted from How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007). Copyright 2007 by Russ Parsons.

Strawberries have an undeniable affinity for the cinnamon-spicy flavor of basil. This recipe can be prepared several hours in advance, but if you store it too long, the berries will soften and lose their texture. Serve this with sugar cookies to dunk in the leftover syrup.

8 servings

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • 4 navel oranges

1. Prepare the syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil and then cooking just until clear, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the syrup cool very briefly, then add the sliced basil. Set aside to steep and cool while you prepare the fruit.

2. Rinse the strawberries, remove their caps and cut them into quarters if normal size or sixths if very large. Peel the oranges, being careful to remove all of the bitter white pith. Working over a bowl to catch any juice, cut the oranges into sections, leaving behind all the tough skin that separates the sections.

3. Add the strawberries to the orange sections and juice and pour over the syrup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.