Q. The strawberries I get from my local farmers’ market are too delicious for words, but they don’t always look perfect. I’m having company next week and would like to use them in a dessert, but I’m afraid my guests will turn their noses up at the first bruise sighting. Strawberry pie is an obvious option, but I’d like to do something a little more creative, and something a little better suited to the hot weather. Any ideas? - Victoria, CT

A. Ah, yes, the small farm produce dilemma. How to convince a supermarket-raised American that fruits and veggies don’t have to look Martha Stewart Catalogue-perfect in order to taste like heaven? A bruise here, an insect nibble there—it’s what you get when you grow strawberries with a lot of love and no pesticide.

So fool your guests. Use your cunning culinary tactics. Trick them into devouring your deliciously imperfect farmers' market strawberries. Pie is an option, yes, but you could also whip your strawberries into a delicious puree. No one will ever know or care that the berries weren’t perfect-looking to begin with. Strawberry puree is about the easiest thing in the world to make, and goes with almost any dessert worth its salt-I mean, sugar.

It’s the perfectly tangy and refreshing treat for hot weather, too.

Simply rinse your strawberries, cut the caps off (don’t cut the caps off beforerinsing, or the berries will absorb water and their flavor will be diluted), and churn them in a blender until smooth. Mix with sugar and lemon juice to taste, and dribble the sauce over chilled cheesecake, chocolate cake, vanilla cake, almost anything cake. Or pour it over (organic, hormone and antibiotic-free) vanilla ice cream.

And just as an experiment, leave a few strawberries out in a bowl after dinner to see if they don’t just get eaten up, bruises and all. Your guests might surprise you.

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in June 2008. 

Copyright Environ Press 2008