You’ve either never heard of it before, or you have loved it all of your life. Watergate Salad is one of those American homemaker culinary hits from the middle 70’s.
According to Wikipedia, KRAFT corporate chefs came out a recipe called Pistachio Pineapple Delight ( I mean… if the title has “delight” in it, you know some old school mom food is getting ready to hit your belly). The recipe came out in 1975 the same time Pistachio Pudding hit the market. From then on Pistachio Pineapple Delight has been called Green Goddess, Green Gloop.. and my favorite, “Shut The Front Gate Salad”.
So how and why the name morphed into Watergate Salad? Who knows.. there’s something about a newspaper columnist in Chicago changing the name to reflect the time in American politics, and something about Colorado . Check out Wiki... the whole story is there.
Anyway, so after reading posts from social media friends about their Thanksgiving meals and all the kitschy salads and sides they all grew up on (that we all grew up on) someone mentioned Watergate Salad. I had never heard of it, but after some research it looked to be a hybrid of the American classic Ambrosia.
Good enough for me and it’s super easy to make. The hardest part was finding Pistachio Instant Pudding. So, here we go! My version of Watergate Salad:
1 box (3.4 ounce) Pistachio Instant Pudding
1 15.25 ounce can Pineapple Tidbits, with the juice
1 cup pecan pieces
1 - 8 ounce container Extra Creamy Whipped Topping
1 cup miniature marshmallow
2 teaspoons rough chopped crystalized ginger (optional)
Candied Pineapple and Roasted Pistachio to garnish
In a bowl pour in the pineapple tidbits and juice. Sprinkle the pistachio instant pudding on top and mix in… it will start to thicken. Fold in the pecan pieces, crystalized ginger, and mix in evenly. Next do a hard mix of a good scoop of the whipped topping; This will loosen up the mixture so you can fold in the rest. Fold in the remaining whipped topping… no green streaks! Make sure to fold it all in evenly. Next fold in the marshmallows , making sure they are all enveloped in the mixture. Set the Watergate Salad in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight covered. When ready to serve dot with candied pineapple and sprinkle the top with roasted/salted pistachio pieces.