Cooking with Cactus | Desert Botanical Garden


Recipes courtesy of Gertrude’s Restaurant

Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce


1 cup Yellow Onion, diced

1 Tbsp. Garlic, chopped

1 ea. Habanero, deseeded and sliced

2 tsp. Cumin, ground

1 cup Sugar, granulated

3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

1 Tbsp. Oregano, dried

1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2 cups Prickly Pear Puree

1 cup Veal or Beef Stock

1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt



In a saucepan over medium heat, gently sauté the diced onion until tender/translucent; add the garlic, habanero, cumin, and oregano – sauté approximately 4 more minutes; add apple cider vinegar, and cook until liquid is reduced by 2/3; add the prickly pear puree, veal stock, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by ½. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Puree the entire mixture in a blender on medium speed until smooth. (Blending hot may result in the top blowing off of mixer.)

Refrigerate in airtight container for up to two weeks.

Yield: 2 Cups; Prep Time:  5 minutes; Cook Time:  approx 30 minutes


Nopales Relish


1 ea Cactus pad (easily found in area grocery stores)

2 ears of corn, roasted, cut off cob

1 ea red onion, small diced

2 ea Jalapeno, grilled, minced

pinch Kosher Salt

optional, 1 cup Jicama, peeled and small diced



Wash and chill Cactus pad at least 1 hour.  Prep and toss all other ingredients into a bowl, allow to chill.  Just before serving, using small-dice technique, cut Nopale, add to chilled bowl of additional ingredients, stir, and serve.  This salsa pairs well with grilled proteins, is a great addition to a salad, and would be a delicious additive to traditional salsa.

Yield: 1 cup


Cactus pad, or Nopale, can be tricky to work with. Being a great source of Vitamin A and high in antioxidants – the Nopale is commonly found in relishes, salsas, and salads in the Southwest. The texture is that of a bell pepper-okra hybrid – crunchy and green exterior, gelatinous interior that will reduce and weep quickly. It is best served immediately after cutting. Mild in flavor, it harmonizes well with traditional bold Southwest vegetables.  (Best Practice is to purchase the cactus pad commercially so you can be assured it is healthy and the quills are removed.)  For a fun twist, grill the Nopale and enjoy as a side item.

Recipes courtesy of Gertrude’s Restaurant

Gertrude's Restaurant Logo

The Garden, Garden Shop and Restaurants will be CLOSED July 1-7.