Watergate Salad Revisited

Remember Watergate Salad? That pistachio pudding confection that appeared at Shoney’s salad bars, church potluck dinners, and holiday dinners. Dole published their version, featuring Dole canned crushed pineapple of course, and Jello had theirs, featuring Jello Instant Pistachio Pudding mix. There are variations (some added coconut). This ubiquitous dessert has remained a favorite and continues to make its appearance at dinners and buffets.

Why is it called Watergate Salad? Good question. It’s not a salad and it didn’t originate in Washington DC at the Watergate complex. Unconfirmed stories claim a food writer titled it after Jello introduced its pistachio pudding because the Watergate wiretapping coverup was in the headlines. The name may be silly, but it stuck.

I recently came across my copy of the recipe, handwritten some 40 years ago by Rachel, my late mother-in-law. Making Watergate Salad today was like a visit with her. So, in Rachel’s memory, I made her version of the recipe.

Watergate Salad

Serves 8

🔘1 package instant pudding mix, pistachio*

🔘1 20 oz can crushed pineapple + juice

🔘1 8 oz tub non dairy whipped topping (thawed)

🔘1 cup miniature marshmallows

🔘½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

🔘1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate. Serve.

That’s it. Simple, easy, and light. No wonder this dish is still a favorite.

*To cut calories, I use the sugar-free Jello Instant pudding, but I recommend using regular whipped topping. The fat free and sugar-free versions don’t save many calories, and the texture and taste are significantly better in the regular or extra creamy varieties.

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