Monday, March 22, 2010

Original Watergate Salad

Watergate salad is a well-loved fruit salad, made up of pistachio pudding with marshmallows, pineapple and Cool Whip and often other add-ins.

Original Watergate Salad

This original Watergate Salad is another one of those classic recipes that dates back to the 70s and that just about every southern cook has in their party file, though like everything else, with some variations. It's still a very common dish at baby showers, bridal showers, and even weddings down south, and I honestly cannot remember a single event that Mama catered where this wasn't expected on the table.

I've never had much of an attraction to green colored foods, and as a young girl I had no idea what was behind this dish. It was years before I had any interest in finding out either, but by that time I had fallen in love. Course these days I love pistachio anything, but back then the thought of it very likely would have elicited a totally different reaction and I would have missed out on this tasty treat.


Apparently known by quite a few names over the years, including Pistachio Pineapple Delight - believed to be the original name of the recipe Kraft used when they introduced their pistachio pudding to the marketplace. A few others have popped up along the way, including Green Stuff, Green Fluff, Pistachio Delight, Pistachio Salad, and Picnic Passion to name a few.


Though nobody has ever been able to verify the story, it is said that a Chicago food writer is the one who assigned the name "Watergate" to this salad, thanks to the political monkey business with the Watergate scandal going on in our country at that time.


I always have a hard time figuring out where this dish belongs. Is it a salad - along the way of say, fruit salad? Or is it really a dessert? Truth is, it is not so sweet that you can get away with having it as a side dish to any meal, but at the same time, it's a perfect light dessert too. Either way, it would be an absolute welcome addition to any holiday menu.

Recipe: Original Watergate Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 1 hour | Yield: About 12 to 16 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 large (1 pound 4 ounce) can of crushed pineapple, in 100% pineapple juice, drained - reserve the juice
  • 2 small packages of instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 large (16 ounce) tub of non-dairy topping (like Cool Whip), thawed
  • 2 cups of miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Instructions

Drain the pineapple, but reserve the juice!! Stir together half of the pineapple juice with the pudding mix until well blended. Gently fold in the Cool Whip and carefully stir in the pineapple, marshmallows, and pecans. Add additional juice only if needed - you want this to be moist but not runny. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or preferably overnight. Scoop into individual clear goblets and garnish with shredded sweet coconut, chopped nuts and/or Maraschino cherries, if desired.

Variations: Add 3 to 4 bananas, sliced, well drained fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, or Maraschino cherries and/or mix in cottage cheese with the whipped topping.

Source: http://www.deepsouthdish.com

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80 comments:

  1. I make a variation of this; I'll have to try your recipe...I have never used pudding mix in it!

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  2. Have you ever had Honeymoon Salad?

    "Lettuce alone"

    ;)

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  3. Back in the late 70's, my friend's mom made this salad! It has a unique and delicious flavor.

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  4. I got the "Watergate Salad" recipe from my uncle who was born, raised and still lives in South Carlina for the last 84yrs. His recipe did not include bannas and neither do I.

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  5. Actually I don't usually include bananas and neither did my mama but I tried to include some variety in this recipe that I know folks have picked up over the years for Watergate Salad. And, that is why this recipe says "optional" on the bananas! :)

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  6. These 5 cup salads take me back to holiday meals gone by! You are so right...reminds me of my granny's kitchen!

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  7. This salad reminds me of my grandmother who always made it for holidays. She served it in a bowl very similar to the one in the picture, hers had little feet on it. When she passed I asked for the bowl and think I will serve my WG salad this Thanksgiving in it! Thanks for a sweet memory!

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  8. I love it icharlotte!! What a great way to honor your grandmother too.

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  9. Oh thanks you, my Grandmother made this every Christmas and Thanksgiving, when I was growing up! I have missed it since she passed away, and am so excited to make it for my family. Banana's and coconut might be a good idea too! Thanks again!!

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  10. I just wanted to let you know that I made this and it was a HUGE hit at my new boyfriends family Thanksgiving! Thank you so so much!! I was so nervous going, but you really helped me win them over!!

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  11. I'm so glad!! Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and leave a comment. You made my day!

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  12. I recall some of my family using fruit cocktail in this recipe too. I'm allergic to pineapple, but I LOVE this recipe made with the canned mandarin oranges. So yummy! I do like a little coconut in mine too.

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  13. The first time I made this my son came up for air after his 2nd or 3rd helping and asked "Mama, how did you learn to make something THIS good?"
    He didn't know he just gave me a backhanded compliment. But I was sure happy he liked it.

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  14. So funny Polly & I'm sure he didn't mean anything but love from it! It really is good stuff - I've always loved it!! Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to comment.

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  15. I make a variation of this too! Only mine also has a container of small curd cottage cheese. Sounds strange, but it's delish!

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    Replies
    1. half pecan and half walnuts I always use colored marshmallows

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  16. I've never used it with Watergate but it doesn't sound strange to me! :)

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  17. i add all sorts of crap to this. :) i stir in a bar of cream cheese to the pudding mix, add pineapple, mandarin oranges, chopped pears, chopped peaches, chopped apple, a can of fruit salad, and a handful or so of halved grapes. i've also, from time to time, put kiwi, slivered strawberries, coconut, cranberry...this is such a great salad, it'll support just about any fruit.

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  18. The recipe I grew up eating that was passed down from my Granny used cottage cheese instead of marshmallows, and no pecans. I never could say watergate salad so I called it "Green Junk" now the entire family call it by that name! Needless to say we have this every Christmas and Thanksgiving!

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  19. Hi Christine! I love a similar "salad" called pink fluff that uses cottage cheese! Actually you can pretty much make it any color you want with whatever jello you use, but it has the cottage cheese, pineapple, cool whip, or some people prefer to make it with cream cheese instead. I like the cottage myself. You can also add marshmallows to that one, or leave them out. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a Merry Christmas!

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  20. I JUST MADE UP MY OWN RECIPE, WHICH IS...FRUIT COCKTAIL,CRUSHED PINEAPPLE, JAR OF CHERRIES, COCONUT, PECANS, WALNUTS & PACKAGE OF PEACH GELATIN MIX...LOOKS MUCH PRETTIER & MORE APPETIZING THAN THAT UGLY SEA-SICK GREEN.

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    Replies
    1. Well now Anonymous... I happen to think that the pistachio green color is pretty myself, and since this is my website, I think I'll stick with the classic GREEN Watergate Salad, which is what this recipe post happens to be about.

      Apparently you don't know about this very old recipe, one of the most searched out recipes on my website, and since Watergate Salad has stood the test of time in all its green-ness, apparently there are quite a few others who don't find the original pistachio green color as offensive as you do!

      Thank you for sharing your recipe also Anonymous, though I'm afraid it really doesn't apply to this post. While what you made is a very nice salad - it's not "Watergate Salad" so I'm not sure how it was relevant here, but I do hope you will visit us here again and maybe enjoy some of our other old classics.

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    2. I do hope that the original 'anonymous' was intelligent enough to catch the sudued southern graciousness that was very evident in your reply Ms. Mary. you are a southern lady indeed. I would have said some things a little more colorful. Some people just don't get it.lovlove love your website.

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  21. My variation uses sour cream (as does my variation on Ambrosia Salad) instead of Cool Whip. I have never tried it with Cool Whip, but plan to next time I make it to see what I've been missing!

    Mary, I agree that the color is a lovely green. Anonymous apparently does not know about this famous salad, and may in fact be new to the whole computer experience, judging from the all-caps reply, which is considered "yelling".

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    Replies
    1. Oh LOL - thanks for tolerating my snarkiness in my reply, but I really do think it's pretty. But then it's the way I always knew it to look too. I bet the sour cream is good - cuts some of the sweet I imagine.

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  22. We add Maraschino cherries, coconut, fresh pecans, and mandarin oranges to ours. It is so delicious!

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  23. We add fresh pecans (chopped), Maraschino cherries (rinsed) mandarin oranges (drained), and fresh coconut (so its not too sweet) to ours. Delicious!

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  24. I make this recipe all the time and its identical but I add cream cheese which gives it that extra "kick". There is also a recipe that is similar but its butterscotch pudding (instead of pistachio), and you add chunks of apple...its really tasty!

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    Replies
    1. I love this stuff! Need to make the apple one too!

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    2. The butterscotch pudding salad sounds good too! Hmm so butterscotch instead of pistachio pudding and apples instead of pineapples? That sounds interesting. Anyone else tried that salad?

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    3. @Mary/Deep South Dish, I really enjoy your blog. It makes me feel nostalgic seeing all your recipes for the "classics." I miss the picnics/potlucks from when I was a kid where ladies brought yummy salads and other homemade goodies as opposed to now days where people show up with store bought junk i.e. oreos and chips! I can't stand it! lol Have a great Christmas! -Jennifer

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  25. Another Jennifer here...I made this salad for Christmas this year, and it's all I want to eat!!! So delicious! I had forgotten Watergate salad even existed (my grandmother made it when I was small). Thanks for reminding me!

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    Replies
    1. I know Jennifer!! It's not that pretty looking but it is SO good! Glad you enjoyed it & Happy New Year!

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  26. Oh, wow! I can't wait to make this. I haven't had Watergate Salad since I visited one of my great-aunts in New Orleans when I was 9 years old! I remember every dish we had that day (all REALLY awesome!), but the WG Salad is most memorable. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! It's a great dish isn't it and it seems to be making a comeback!!

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  27. My Grandma made this for me all the time. I loved it. I make it now with vanilla pudding due to food allergies. It's good but certianly not the same. I miss the pretty green color.

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    Replies
    1. It doesn't look like much does it but there is just something about this one that drums up all kinds of memories!

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  28. Our wonderful family friend, "Granny Bet" makes this every Thanksgiving and Christmas and my mother loves it! She eats it for breakfast the day after. I never knew it was called Watergate Salad, Granny Bet just calls it congealed salad. Thanks for letting me know it has an actual name!

    Nicole

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  29. I've eaten a ton of this over the years, but hadn't made it in a long time. After seeing it in your "Easter collection" of recipes, I just had to make it today. Your "Original" version (including the pecans) is the way I've always made it with the exception of adding a little flaked coconut. That "green stuff", as my family calls it, was as good as ever! Thanks for the reminder, and the recipe.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! This has been a part of my life all of my life but I really grew to love the most as an adult!

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  30. Love Watergate Salad . . . my recipe calls for 1 c. of marshmallow creme rather than marshmallows. It's one of those salad recipes that can be dessert or salad!!!

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    Replies
    1. Have never tried it with the creme, but how could that not be good?!

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  31. Sounds yummy...will test this day at a friends potluck..Hope it's good?

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  32. Thanks so much for this recipe. My mom passed away last month and all my cook books are in the states waiting for them to be shipped to my new home. Living in the ME its hard to find taste of home and many things we cant find or I havent found yet. I love this one and used it for all my holiday dishes but over the years we would forget an ingredient or two and spend half the day calling each other to remember what all went into it. I got it now and will share it with the next generation of my family..grandkids

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    Replies
    1. You're very welcome & I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  33. I have been making Watergate Salad since I first had it at my own bridal shower over 30 years ago! My "batch" is actually a double batch and I now use half pineapple tidbits and half crushed... I've never cared for those who put cottage cheese in... just the pudding, pineapple, marshmallows and cool whip. I never used the pineapple juice to mix with the pudding mix though...will do that next time and probably won't have to mix so well to get it all mixed in! I'm always surprised to meet people who have never heard of or had Watergate Salad and also never met anybody who didn't love it when they have it....have passed out many many recipes for this!!

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    Replies
    1. The juice really does help with that Cheryl! I think that the dessert got "lost" there for a bit, but it got revived along the way!

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    2. Oh and I really like the idea of using half tidbits and half crushed. Great idea!!

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  34. I'm planning to try to make your Watergate salad for someone who is lactose intolerant so I can't use the pudding mix. I found a recipe for a dairy free pistachio pudding. I will let you know how it comes out. Thanks for posting your recipe!

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  35. Thanks for posting this recipe. I am going to make it this weekend for someone who is lactose intolerant so I'm substituting the pudding mix for a dairy free pistachio pudding recipe I found online. I'll let you know how it comes out.

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  36. Can you use whipped cream instead of Cool Whip?

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    1. Cool Whip has always been traditional since it began as a Kraft recipe and I've never strayed from that. Cool Whip has stabilizers in it, but it is possible that the pudding might help stabilize the whipping cream - not really sure though. It's possible that it could also break down too much and end up a watery mess too. Sorry I can't help much there!

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  37. I have made this many times and it's ALWAYS a huge hit. Everyone loves it. I put the pastel colored mini-marshmallows in mine and sugar-free pistachio pudding.

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  38. We have been making a variation of this for about 40 years . It's flavor compliments ham and turkey perfectly so Thanksgiving and Easter it is! No nuts or marshmallows in ours and it never had a name so was dubbed "green goop".

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  39. My family puts shredded coconut to this same recipe!

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  40. Mary, My aunt would always make what I called "Yum Yum Salad." Her dish, I know, had red jello, whipped cream, and I know it may sound bad, mayonnaise. It also had cream cheese, i think and various of fruit and nuts. Any thoughts on what this could be called. It sounds similar to this Watergate...

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  41. Mary, I'm going to try this for thanksgiving! Quick question. My Aunt had a seemingly similar dish but i Just can't find the recipe but maybe you have some thoughts.

    I know she put red jello, whipped cream, cream cheese (i think), and mayonnaise. Hers also always has a variety of fruit and nuts depending on the year.

    Do you have any thoughts on what this could have been called? We always called it Yum Yum Salad. It sounds in the same category as this glorious Watergate... but hoping to find a recipe for my family tradition (although after this thanksgiving with your dish, based on the reviews, we make have to make a change.

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    1. I have the cherry coke salad but it has pineapple in it. Could be any number of congealed salads really, there were so many! I do have a couple of vintage (OLD! lol...) jello cookbooks so I'll check those and if I find something that sounds like your yum yum salad, I'll post it here.

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    2. @ CCook- my mom made what she called "Apple Salad" that sounds like what you describe. It has whipping cream, red and green jello, marshmallows, apples, Miracle Whip, and nuts. She made it at the holidays every year. Delish. I'll have to find the recipe again. Usually I just wing it and go by memory.

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    3. I think it is called Watergate salad because it originated at the Watergate Hotel in DC, not because of the scandal. I think they had a new chef who "accidentally" introduced it on the menu.

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  42. While pregnant with my now 27 year old daughter, there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't crave and have at least a cup of this salad. My mother used to make it when I was a girl and I loved it then. Still do. Made it for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner the other night and it was eaten by only a few. But then again, this IS New England and they don't know much about our Southern Delicacies...

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    1. LOL, although I know a few folks up North do enjoy this, sound like your guests probably didn't know what to think of this! It's a holiday staple for us - and now, you get to enjoy the leftovers!

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  43. I have been looking for a good Watergate salad recipe to make for Thanksgiving and thanks to your post I found it. I didn't know there would be so many variations. I just wanted to duplicate the yummy green salad I had this summer.
    I added the cherries and next time I'll try the coconut too. I tried it and I think it tastes wonderful. I'm looking forward to serving it tomorrow. Thanks again, Tanya

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    1. There have been quite a few variations to it over the years - and lots of different names too! This one is pretty basic, but I'm so glad you enjoyed this version too Tanya!

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  44. We all enjoy this in Illinois! Have since the 70's. Not just a southern thing!

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    1. The north and the south actually share many foods in common, but I am a Southerner, I live in and grew up in the South, so I speak to foods that are from my experience of living in the South. That is never meant to imply they are only just a Southern thing!

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  45. I also think the color is so pretty. My family has made this for years and years and it becomes a tradition to spot the green in the bowl, its expected at big holidays and sometimes just because!!!! We have a massive amount of different dishes being a southern puerto Rican family lol
    I made this earlier tonight and I have always used the sour cream and whip cream...but I thought why not...I subbed the sour cream for vanilla greek yogurt, sooo good. Didn't have to add a ton of whip to make it sweet and it was so creamy. Just a suggestion. Turned out great. Such a delicious treat, and its so cheap to make. I've never used nuts in mine though.

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  46. Wow how very rude..I happen to think the green is so pretty. I know someone who calls it seafoam salad. I made this for thanksgiving and its always good. We have so many dishes at holidays being a puerto rican southern family haha but I decided to make this tonight too just cuz its so yummy and cheap to make...but I have always used the sour cream and cool whip recipe, but I thought why not and subbed sour cream for vanilla greek yogurt.....soooo good. Don't have to add much cool whip either with the sweetness of the yogurt..but other than that I use the traditional pineapple, marshmallow recipe. To many nut allergies so we sometimes use almond.

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    Replies
    1. I don't know why, but some folks seem to find a need to spew out whatever is on the tip of their tongue anymore - I just ignore it. I'm not real big on green foods, but I'm with you on this one. I think it's pretty!

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