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. 
  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.

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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

  • 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

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.

Cook's Notes: Yes, lower sugar and lower fat puddings and Cool Whip work fine!

Pineapple Fluff: Prepare as above, except exchange vanilla pudding for the pistachio.

Orange Fluff: Prepare as above, except exchange vanilla pudding for the pistachio, tidbits for the crushed pineapple, drained and add in mandarin oranges, drained. Measure the juices and substitute orange juice in place of the drained juices to dissolve the pudding as above; add 1 teaspoon of orange extract (optional). Nuts may be used or omitted.

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


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