Who remembers this popular green salad from the late 70’s and 80’s called Watergate Salad? It’s a salad known by names such as pistachio delight, shut the gate salad, green goop, green fluff and green stuff and these days can be found on the table during Thanksgiving or Easter celebrations.
According to research efforts, the origin of the name “Watergate salad” is obscure: Kraft Corporate Affairs (who makes the pistachio pudding) says “There are several urban myths regarding the name change, but we can’t substantiate any of them. We developed the recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight.” It was in 1975, the same year that pistachio pudding mix came out. According to Kraft Kitchens, when the recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight was sent out, an unnamed Chicago food editor renamed it Watergate Salad to promote interest in the recipe when she printed it in her column. Neither the article nor editor has been tracked down, however.
Further to this in in 1922 Helen Keller published a similar recipe, calling for canned diced pineapple, nuts, marshmallows, whipped cream and other ingredients. “I ate it first in California, so I call it Golden Gate Salad”. Similar “fruit salad” and “pineapple salad” recipes had been published in the 1910s, and “Golden Gate Salad” was served in some US hotels. The question still begs to be answered, who came up with this recipe or was it an accumulation of recipes as we see so often these days.
Watergate salad wasn’t something we ate regularly in our house, in fact more of an experience we had when we were at gatherings with friends or family. I never did understand (even though I grew up in the era of jelly salads), how a bowl of pudding with fruit, nuts and marshmallows could be a side to a dinner. Inspiration hit and I decided to make this retro recipe into a trifle with real whipping cream.
Recently we dropped into Cococo Chocolatiers to try their hot chocolate for YYC Hot Chocolate Fest and I noticed they carry baking chocolate. They asked if I would like to sample some and I graciously said yes. Chocolate shavings was one of the items I received and was excited to use. While making the individual trifles, I added toasted pecan bits to the layers of the trifle along with the Cococo Chocolate Shavings.
If you are having a friends over make this in a trifle bowl and double it for a crowd. This was the perfect amount for four or you could easily stretch it into 6-8 individual servings.