Nettle pizza

Nettle pizza

A Year of Practiculture
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

In my backyard and surrounding paddocks grows a healthy population of stinging nettles. It’s a weed, and it’s an invasive species, but it’s one of those rare problem plants that you can eat away at, literally. It’s loaded with healthy antioxidants and minerals and stuff that I know nothing about but heard about somewhere. Look, the reality is that it’s free, natural and grows like wildfire. So it’s a yes for those times in winter and spring when there isn’t much going on in the greens department. Nettle tastes similar to spinach and makes a killer pesto (which is in my first book. Go buy it. Now). The idea of the pesto is to blanch the leaves to remove the toxic sting, squeeze the water out, then, just as for basil pesto, simply blend with some olive oil, salt, garlic, grated parmesan and nuts of some kind, and voilà! Pesto. It can then be used on pasta, in salads, with roast vegetables or here on a pizza. Any why put it on a pizza? Well, I reckon you can put almost anything on a pizza and kids will eat it. And really, that’s where a lot of my efforts go – towards getting my kids to eat real food.

Years ago I was in a northern Italian town called Bergamo and ate a pizza topped with basil pesto and thinly sliced potato. It was cheesy and full-flavoured, and has remained in my memory ever since. I love making this style of pizza. It’s never as good as my memory implies, but for now it will just have to do. Nothing beats a great food memory.


Quantity Ingredient
2-3 large whole potatoes, peeled
1 Pizza bases
plain flour, for dusting
90-125g nettle pesto, (see below)
250g mozzarella, grated
olive oil, for drizzling
semolina, for dusting
100-200g crumbly full-flavoured vintage cheddar, grated
salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Nettle pesto

Quantity Ingredient
6-8 cups nettle leaves
50-100g walnuts, plus extra to taste
2 garlic cloves
90g pecorino, grated, plus extra to taste
125ml olive oil, plus extra as required
salt, to taste


  1. To make the pesto, blanch the nettle leaves for a minute in boiling water to deactivate the toxins that make the nettle sting (wear gloves to touch the nettles until you’ve completed this step). Drain, set aside until cool enough to handle, then squeeze out the excess water with your hands.
  2. Meanwhile, whizz the walnuts in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the blanched leaves and garlic, and whizz to make a paste.
  3. With the machine still whizzing, add the pecorino then slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture has your preferred consistency. If you like it cheesy or nutty, add more of these ingredients too. Making pesto is more about testing it and making it suit your taste. I like mine with plenty of olive oil, not too many nuts. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (around 250°C).
  5. Boil the potatoes until they’re soft enough to pierce easily with a blunt fork. Drain and allow to cool, then slice thinly lengthways (if there is a lengthways).
  6. Roll out the pizza base on a floured bench. Spoon over the pesto (I like it generous). Add a layer of the thinly sliced potatoes. Scatter over the mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Dust a pizza stone or baking tray with semolina and heat in the hot oven. Add your pizza and cook for 10–15 minutes.
  8. Crumble over the vintage cheddar, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
  9. For a moment, drift back to beautiful Bergamo, where you can’t understand what anyone’s saying and you eat too much gelato.
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