Recipe extracted from Maggie’s Recipe for Life by Maggie Beer with Professor Ralph Martins.
Published by Simon & Schuster Australia, RRP $39.99.
Photography © Dragan Radocaj


Maggie Beer's Recipe for Life
Like the Decoding Alzheimer’s Facebook page and leave your name/country* in the comments field of the first post for your chance to win
(*Entry open to residents of Australia and UK only).

Recipe Archive

Spiced Sweet Potato with Black Barley and Honey Turmeric Walnuts

I can’t resist white sweet potato; I’ve loved it since childhood. For you it might be orange or purple sweet potato, both of which I use often as well. It’s important that the spices are fresh. Forgive me for repeating myself but you should only buy spices in small quantities and roast them before grinding for maximum freshness and flavour. Black barley is my new favourite grain – so much so that I’m working on some South Australian growers to plant it. Might take a few seasons but watch this space!


  • ½ cup (100 g) raw black barley (see note)
  • 1.2 kg white, orange or purple sweet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped into 3 cm chunks
  • 2–3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves, torn
  • 160 g Persian feta, crumbled
  • Honey turmeric walnuts
  • 1 cup (100 g) walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of sea salt flakes


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the black barley in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Place in a medium saucepan with 1 litre water and bring to the boil over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, then drain. Tip into a large bowl and cover with a cloth to prevent it drying out.

Meanwhile, place the sweet potato, olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine well. Spread over the lined tray and roast for 30–35 minutes or until golden and tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (fan-forced).

To make the honey turmeric walnuts, place the walnuts on a baking tray and cook for 8–10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Pour into a clean tea towel and rub off the skins while still warm.

In a small bowl, combine the honey, turmeric, salt and just enough water to make a thick paste. Add the toasted walnuts and stir to coat well. Spread over a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes or until the walnuts are crunchy but still a bit sticky.

To make the vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a jar. Seal, then shake until well combined.

To serve, add the sweet potato, herbs and half the vinaigrette to the barley and combine well. Place in a serving bowl, scatter with the walnuts and feta and serve with the remaining dressing alongside.


Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, copper and fibre.

Note: Black barley: This is an heirloom grain variety that is rich in nutritional value and flavour. Sometimes called purple barley, it has a nuttier taste than white barley and provides protein, fibre, manganese, selenium, anthocyanin antioxidants and some B-vitamins. Contains gluten.