Egg Barley with Meatballs

If you’ve never been to the Second Avenue Deli, you should go. Right now*. The food is amazing. Though many say it’s not the same as it used to be, it’s still worth a trip.

We used to go to the one on Second Avenue and Tenth Street all the time. When they closed, the first thing I did was buy the 2nd Ave Deli cookbook. I then bookmarked about half the recipes in the book, and actually made quite a few of them. When the new restaurant opened on 33rd and 3rd, I kind of forgot about my cookbook, and got my health salad fix at the deli.

Just a few weeks ago I decided to look through the cookbook once again, and realized that there are many recipes I still want to make. And since one of my regular menu items is the egg barley and meatball appetizer, I started with those two recipes. While my versions didn’t taste exactly like the deli’s (the farfel did more than the meatballs), they were still pretty good. And I still plan on making this meal again, maybe with some pickles, health salad, and matzo ball soup. I guess I’ll have to follow their tradition and serve some chocolate sodas as a finisher, as well.

For the farfel with mushrooms:


  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped onions (about 1 large onion)
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced into sticks
  • 8 ounces egg barley or farfel (one package)
  • 3 cups chicken soup or stock (or veggie broth)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute onions until lightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon to a bowl.

2. In remaining oil (add more if needed), brown the mushrooms, stirring occasionally. Add to the bowl with the onions and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pour egg barley into a 9×13 baking pan (I used a Pyrex), add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and mix well. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

4. Heat up the stock and add salt and pepper, if needed.

5. Remove the farfel from the oven and stir in the onions, mushrooms, and soup.

6. Lower the oven to 300 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until all the soup is absorbed.

7. Serve with meatballs:

This recipe made 19 meatballs (the recipe said it would make 18, I guess mine were a teeny bit too small). I froze 11 and baked off 8 in my 9×13 Pyrex. I figured that would be more than enough for dinner for two and lunch for both of us the next day.

For the meatballs:


  • 8 slices white bread
  • 2 1/2 pounds chop meat
  • 2 cups grated onion, drained (about 1 1/4 large onions)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or chopped very finely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. Cut bread slices into quarters, place them in a colander, and lightly moisten with water. Squeeze out exces moisture, and place in a large bowl with the chop meat.

2. Knead bread and meat together with your hands until there are no bready lumps. If you have a meat food processor, use that. I didn’t, so I used my hands and got rid of the bready lumps as best as I could.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the meat mixture and mix well.

5. Roll out meatballs that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them in a baking dish that is at least 2 inches deep and bake for 10 minutes.

6. Add a cup of water to the baking dish and bake for another 30 minutes or until browned.

*Since it is open on Shabbat, it is not considered Glatt Kosher, so don’t go if it’s not kosher enough for you.