The Most Under-Appreciated Recipes of the 1980s: Food Writers Share Their Secret Favorites

(Image credit: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Flickr)

This week we are talking about the recipes that defined the decades, those dishes that may no longer be popular, but still hold a special place in our hearts (and bellies). We’ve covered the stuffed celery and porcupine meatballs of the 1960s, the Baked Alaskas and taco pies of the 1970s, and today we are talking to food writers about their favorite recipes of the 1980s.

Baked brie? Check. Poppy seed dressing? Of course. And don’t forget the pine nuts!

Vodka Pasta. In these days of shortrib ragu, dousing your tomato sauce with vodka, cream and chiles seems amateurish, but vodka has a magical effect on tomatoes — the taste equivalent of an Instagram filter. The problem with vodka pasta was that a lot of cooks overdid it on the cream and couldn’t resist tossing in vegetables — conflating vodka pasta with pasta primavera, an 80s recipe that for the most part did deserve to die — so people stopped eating it. (I should also mention that in the 80s no one understood that pasta wasn’t meant to be cooked until soft, so most pasta dishes had texture issues working against them.) — Amanda Hesser, co-founder of Food52 and author ofThe Essential New York Times Cookbook

Anything with pine nuts. They were in everything in the late 80s and then became gauche in the oughts. I’m glad to be seeing them again, largely thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi and the interest in Middle Eastern cuisine. They add protein, crunch, and a buttery/resin flavor to salads, dips, and veggie sautés. They’re not just for pesto! — Ivy Manning, author of Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Baked brie. Wrapped in puff pastry or crescent dough, topped with apricot jam or sweet-hot mustard. With little pastry leaves pasted on top. — Perre Coleman Magness of The Runaway Spoon

Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate cookbook circa 1980 or ’81. (I still make it today and adapted it for my slow cooker cookbook!) — Cynthia Graubart, author of Slow Cooking for Two

Hot bacon dressing! Other folks put it on spinach. My mom put it on dandelion greens. Before they were trendy. — Donna Currie, author of the forthcoming Make Ahead Bread

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Definitely Sloppy Joes. They are messy and meaty and I love them without shame or apology. Nostalgia at its finest, at least for this Midwestern-raised girl. — Emma Christensen, Recipe Editor for The Kitchn and author of True Brews

Orange Julius! What a Caramel Frappuccino is to teenagers today, the Orange Julius was to me and my girlfriends back in the day. I make my own homemade version. — Katie Sullivan Morford, author of Best Lunch Box Ever

Poppy seed dressing and hot chicken salad. Separately, not together. — Sheri Castle, author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook

What are your favorite under-appreciated recipes of the 1980s?

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