Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mesquite Crisp for Quick Dessert

At holiday time we are often pressed to make a dessert to take to a potluck or to serve to guests.  A mesquite crisp is easy, delicious and interesting.  If your guests are out-of-towners, you can impress them with your knowledge of local food sources.

Start with about a quart of cut-up fruit — the easiest at this time of year is apples or pears.  It could even be canned peaches. Sprinkle them with sugar if needed and a little flour to thicken the juice.  Then combine in a bowl 1/2 cup mesquite meal, 1 cup raw oatmeal, 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of soft butter in little bits and distribute it throughout the other ingredients with your fingers.  Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  If you haven’t harvested your own mesquite pods and had them ground, look for mesquite meal at farmer’s markets or on-line.  

This recipe is from my new cookbook Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants. It includes about 150 recipes for 23 easily recognized desert plants, including 27 recipes for using mesquite meal.

You can watch me making this with Tucson TV host Mindy Blake at



Cactus and Mesquite for Sale

Jeau Allen is ready to try one of her own prickly pops.

If you’d like to try cooking with desert foods, but  missed the harvest this year or don’t have the time or inclination to go out gathering, Jeau Allen has done the hard work for you. She and her husband Charlie live in the desert at the west end of Aravaipa Creek where they gather and prepare all manner of delicious wild edibles.  For from-scratch cooks, they sell five (yes!) kinds of mesquite meal, frozen prickly pear juice, blue corn meal, chia seed and tepary bean flour.  If you’d like some of the assembly already done for you, there are baking mixes with mesquite meal, mesquite jelly and syrup, and saguaro fruit spread. And oh, those frozen treats — on any day she might have prickly pear, mesquite, watermelon, pumpkin pie, Mexican chocolate or wherever her culinary whim carried her that week.

You can find Jeau and Charlie selling their wares  in Tucson at the Santa Cruz River Farmer’s Market on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m., at the Oro Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and  at the Tucson Farmer’s Market at St. Philip’s Plaza Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Check out their websites for more intriguing foods at and

If you need some recipes to use that delicious mesquite flour or prickly pear juice you get from Jeau, try my latest cookbook Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants available in local bookstores and on-line sources. For inspiration, watch the video at

Cookin’ Up a Storm

Wild plants cooking class at Tucson Botanical Gardens

Last Saturday I was joined by 16 old and new friends at Tucson Botanical Gardens as we made some dishes perfect for the entertaining season using Tucson’s delicious wild plants. We made a Mesquite Apple Crisp, a lentil salad with nopalitos, a tepary-basil appetizer and enjoyed a prickly pear salad dressing on a green salad.  I also brought along some prickly pear iced tea. At the end, there was enough for a small lunch for everyone.

All the recipes came from my new cookbook Cooking the Wild Southwest, Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.  You can learn a little about what’s in the book from my new book trailer
 If you didn’t get a chance to join me at the botanical gardens, I’ll be teaching a similar class at Tohono Chul Park at 9 a.m. on November 12. Call  the park to sign up.
Meanwhile, if you have a favorite fruit crisp recipe, try adding or substituting 2 to 8 tablespoons of finely ground mesquite meal.  My recipe contains 1/2 cup mesquite meal, 1 cup raw oatmeal, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 6 tablespoons unsalted butter.
And don’t forget to check the Desert Harvesters’ website for a mesquite milling date near you.
Next post:  Join me next time when I interview Jeau Allen of The Mesquitery who sells all sorts of wild foods for those of you who want to get in the game but didn’t have time to gather the materials yourselv.