17 Vintage Recipes So Old-School They're Cool Again

A visit back to the good old days when "salads" contained plenty of meat, sour cream, and/or Jell-O.

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Sep 25 2018, 7:15pm

Time is a flat circle, and everything that was once old becomes new again. What year are we living in? Who can tell, really, when everything from movie franchises to TV shows to fucking Supreme Court justice nominee sexual abuse controversies are repeating themselves right before our very eyes. (Neither Hollywood nor the universe has any new ideas for content lately, it seems. Everything is in re-syndication.) Never more than in the year of our lord 2018 have we been more convinced that time is a social construct, and yet simultaneously, that we are all living in the assuredly stupidest timeline. We’re choosing to embrace this feeling of time meaning absolutely fuck all by bringing back all of our favorite recipes from days of yore. You might call them “vintage,” but what even is “vintage” when life feels like one big, terrible version of Groundhog Day? Here are some of the best old school recipes from the MUNCHIES archives that feel a bit nostalgic and new at the same time. Sorry in advance for the déjà vu.


We fondly—if confusedly—remember the time in American history when a “salad” could refer to literally fucking anything, so long as it contained Jell-O, with the inimitable Tammy Wynette’s “dump salad.”

This mid-century staple of the Thanksgiving table got the cheffy treatment, swapping out all-canned-everything for fresh beans, a gouda cream sauce, and real fried shallots with panko bread crumbs. And look, we got you a vegan version, too.

Everything here is made from scratch, but you could easily cut a few steps with store-bought stock or biscuits in a pop-out tube and achieve a similar effect.


Have you ever even actually heard someone refer to a freezer as an “icebox?” Probably not, but give the Luddite-hipster movement a few more years and they’ll bring it back into popularity. And you’ll be ready with this cake.

Vinegar pie, sometimes called “desperation pie,” came about from industrious but poor rural American folk who couldn’t get their hands on a lot of sugar or fresh lemons, but definitely had some vinegar in the pantry for a similar tang that citrus usually supplies. Harken back to the not-at-all-good old days of not being able to find basically whatever type of produce you want in a grocery store year-round with this recipe.


Back in the 60’s and 70’s, the U.S. was damn near obsessed with ~French Cuisine~. Despite the fact that onion soup is a truly rustic dish made with all but the scraps of the scraps of the kitchen, it became a dish intrinsically associated with this highly fashionable culinary trend, then found a comfy home in obscurity on the menu of all your favorite diners. We’re waiting patiently for this one to make a big comeback.


Much like the French onion soup, chicken cordon bleu (which technically originates in Switzerland, according to Wikipedia, despite its borrowing the French language) had its moment in the culinary sun, but now is sort of relegated to an oddity you find in the frozen food aisle. Give it a try with veal, too.


Cordon bleu is basically a rolled-up schnitzel, so keep it simple if you’re not into all those unnecessary extra stuffing steps.


Potato salad is, truly, timeless, if you’re an unwavering lover of mayonnaise. But if not, our Test Kitchen updated this picnic classic with fresh snap peas and crispy salami—and holding the mayo entirely.

What screams “weird mid-century Americana” than multiple flavors of gelatin in whimsically-shaped molds?

Get your TV trays ready! This classic recipe from Matty Matheson is made for accompanying a family evening watching Leave It to Beaver.


Finding needlessly fancy ways to serve the humble potato is a fad that we, frankly, are surprised we don’t see more of in the era of $25 gastropub burgers and $12 pressed juices. But the hasselback potato is the OG.


The summer camp staple, upgraded for adulthood, courtesy of our genius culinary director, Farideh Sadeghin. Watch her make this monstrosity over on our How-To channel, too.

Because Americans just can't have nice things, we had to bastardize the culinary term "almondine," meaning "a garnish of almonds," when we adopted this simple dish from the French.


Any even remotely formal event of the 80s and 90s probably had stuffed mushroom caps being passed around on trays. Revive the tradition for your next party with Frank Pinello’s classic Italian-American take.

Shrimp cocktail is another appetizer that was once so popular it became a culinary cliché. But this version, livened up with Cajun spices, is a little more exciting.


What late-90s chain restaurant experience didn’t end in a molten chocolate lava cake? Recreate those sad childhood birthday memories of depressed waitresses singing an off-brand version of the Happy Birthday song to you with Matty Matheson’s version of the celebratory-night-out dessert.