Watergate Salad

For once I don’t know if I really want to actually think about a food. I just want to eat Watergate Salad. This is another one of those “salads” that really could double as a dessert. This recipe has been around for a while, and from what I can ascertain (big word), this dish may possibly be named after the same-flavored cake, which involves nuts and a layer of icing to cover up all that nuttiness. And I like that explanation and it is probably as far as we need to delve into Watergate. I wasn’t around then quite yet, and though I like to think that I was a precocious baby (just smile and nod your head please, Mom!), this was beyond my grasp, I think. Anyway, we can call this Watergate Salad or Pistachio Pineapple Pecan Perfection! “Follow the money?”, well maybe, but “Follow the delicious salad” seems to be what we are doing. So, the suffix ‘-gate’ is now added to pretty much any words to denote scandal. In our house, we have had about 5 scandals since Easter already. We like to call them ‘Saladgate’ (making this several times and pretending like it is the same batch), ‘Sleepwalkergate’ (claiming that a midnight trip to the fridge to eat this salad actually happened while sleepwalking), ‘Pecangate’ (eating all the pecans “by accident” that I toasted for this salad specially that were in their own small bag and labeled as such), ‘Excavatorgate’ (some people are guilty of excavating in the salad for either marshmallows or marshmallows or more marshmallows and you know who you are!), and ‘Spoongate’ (someone [read: me] is guilty of continually going to the fridge with a spoon in hand for just a teeny-tiny taste. No big deal until  dinner, when you decide that you want to have ‘salad’, and there is maybe half a cup left [ok maybe a quarter cup]. I wouldn’t leave just a spoonful because that is cruel and that is what men do with ice cream. JUST EAT IT!!!). How do we even live with ourselves? Easy: I make this salad and it is now on our regular rotation. It is so yummy and refreshing. The other day I worked in the yard all day and this salad is what I had for lunch. It was just shy of 90ºF and I called it ‘Lunchgate’, because i ate nearly an entire batch for lunch. It’s a salad, y’all!

This is just a side note. For this salad, I made it the day ahead, and I really do think the flavor and texture is best if you can wait overnight. I left the pecans out and sprinkled them on top right before I served it. I think this is my ‘new thing’ with nuts for these Southern-type salads. I like mixing them into the salad, but I really loved the crunch of toasted pecans on top and I think I will do that with all my salads from now on. If you know me, you know how I feel about toasted nuts of any kind – so delicious and the flavor is sublime! It is worth the time, I promise! I just stored the pecans in a small plastic bag and only had to make about 7 cups of toasted pecans…because someone kept eating them. But my lips are sealed!

Watergate Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Refrigerate 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 16 minutes


  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 heaping cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 3.4 ounce box instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 8 ounce container Cool Whip (I used light to make it ‘healthy’!)
  • ½ – 1 cup toasted chopped pecans


  • Toast pecans at 350ºF for about 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
  • Mix pineapple, marshmallows, and pudding mix to combine. Gently fold in Cool Whip.
  • Refrigerate at least 4 – 6 hours or overnight (best).


Before serving, ‘fluff’ up the salad and top with toasted pecans. You will have to make another batch because I promise you this will last less than 5 minutes.
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