Summer Melon Fruit Salad with Prickly Pear Syrup



  • 1 muskmelon or cantaloupe
  • 10 fresh Indian peaches, or 5 commercially grown peaches (Note: Indian peaches are grown in the desert by a dry-farming method and tend to be smaller than commercially grown fruits)
  • 1 large prickly pear cactus pad (nopale)
  • ¼ yellow watermelon (use red if unable to find yellow)
  • Mint leaves, for garnish
  • ¾ cup Prickly Pear Syrup (recipe below)


Cut the muskmelon in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop the melon into 1-inch balls and place in a bowl. Cut the peaches in half, or if using larger peaches, cut into slices. Add to the melon balls. Trim the cactus pad (instructions below), cut into strips, and blanch in boiling salted water for 1 to 2 minutes. Rinse the pads under cool water to remove their gum; drain well. Toss together with the fruits.

Slice the watermelon into ½-inch slices and from each slice cut 1½-inch triangles, removing the seeds as you cut. Toss the watermelon with the other fruit. Garnish with mint leaves and serve with the Prickly Pear Syrup.
– Serves 12 as a salad or dessert. 

Recipe from Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations, by Chef Lois Ellen Frank of Red Mesa Cuisine, Santa Fe-based chef, author, Native foods historian and photographer.

Old Town Cactus

How to handle a nopale or cactus pad:

  • Hold the fruit with metal tongs under cold running water and scrub using a vegetable brush or knife, scraping the pad away from you
  • Remove the rounded outside edge of the pad with a small paring knife or vegetable peeler, trim the ends, and discard

Prickly Pear Syrup

  • 12 prickly pear fruits
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Wash and cut each prickly pear into quarters, leaving the skins on. Place the fruit in a food processor until pulpy and thoroughly blended. Press the liquid through a fine sieve, discard the skin and seeds.

Put the prickly pear juice into a saucepan with honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then let cool. The syrup will thicken further as it cools. May be stored in refrigerator for up to two weeks.