Recipe: Stinging Nettles Pizza

29 Jan

I was super excited when we got stinging nettles in our bag a couple weeks ago.  I’ve never cooked with them, and I’m not sure if I’d ever eaten them before, but I knew that they were something special.  First special thing about them: they sting, like a bee sting, so you can not handle with your bare hands.  A stray leaf brushed against my wrist and immediately caused redness and welts.  But, just like a bee sting, relief is comes quickly in the form of baking soda mud and a nip of bourbon (the mud goes on the welt, the bourbon goes in my mouth).   Second special thing about them:  they are a ridiculously rich source of countless vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.  They’re the original super food – it’s said that certain monks lived for years on nothing more than nettle tea.

So, what to make with this special stuff?  Soups and teas are standard, but for years I’ve heard of the magical  nettle pizza at Chez Panisse so I tried to recreate that.  It was yummy, though I’m sure that it be just as good with spinach or arugula if you don’t want to live too dangerously.


  • 1 large bunch nettles
  • 1 head roasted garlic (cut off top 1/3 of head, top with olive oil and wrap in foil, roast at 400 degrees for about an hour)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Italian cheese blend
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

Preheat the oven according to package directions.  Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  We didn’t have any rubber gloves, so instead of taking the leaves off before blanching them, I put the whole bunch, still tied together, into the water with some tongs.  Blanch for about a minute and then plunge into some ice water, or at least run cold water from the tap to stop them cooking.  At this point they’re safe to handle.  The leaves kind of turn to mush, so just do your best to separate the leaves from the thick stems and put the leaves aside.

To assemble the pizza, stretch out the dough to whatever shape you like (mine was a rectangle), put on a sheet pan or pizza pan or pizza stone or however you usually make pizza.  Cover dough with cheese, then place the nettles on top, then put a little more cheese on top of that.  Dot with the roasted garlic cloves and drizzle a little olive oil over top.  Bake according to directions.

Serve with a simple side salad and enjoy!


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