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Both Watergate salad and Watergate cake use Kraft (Jell-OŽ) pistachio instant pudding mix. This ingredient was introduced in 1975 by Kraft Foods. Pistachios have been enjoyed for hundreds of years, although technological advances in the 1900s meant they became more accessible to home cooks.
Pistachios were used to flavor parfaits and ice creams. They were also used in baked goods, candy and pates, as well as being used in savory gelatin mold recipes. Today there are lots of recipes you can make with pistachios, including the famous (or infamous perhaps) Watergate salad.
Watergate is the name given to the political scandal in the United States in the 1970s, which led to the resignation of President Nixon. An employee from the Kraft Corporate Affairs department claims that although their pistachio pudding mix was launched in 1975 and they had a recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight, Kraft did not coin the term "Watergate salad."
It is believed that a Chicago food editor gave it this name to promote interest in the dish when it was printed in her food column. This might or might not be true, since neither the writer nor the article has been tracked down. A similar recipe is for Watergate cake, the reason for that being the cake is "covered up" in icing (obviously this is a reference to the political scandal).
Watergate salad features pineapple, pistachio pudding mix, marshmallows, nuts and whipped topping. It is easy to make because you simply stir the ingredients together, and it makes a hearty and flavorful dessert.
Watergate salad is not the only salad to feature nuts. The nuts in Watergate salad are very tasty and they add a lovely crunch to this green gelatin pudding salad recipe, so you could add a handful of nuts to your next salad recipe. Pistachios are good, but you can also try walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts, or another type of nut. Nuts work well in both sweet and savory salads and you can add a few as a garnish or stir them into the salad itself to incorporate them.
You can toast your nuts for a nice smoky flavor if you want. Simply put some nuts in a dry skillet (do not use oil) over a low heat and let them cook gently, shaking the pan from time to time. When they are fragrant and golden brown they are done. Keep an eye on them as they toast because they can burn. Combine toasted cashews with chicken and mayonnaise for a crunchy, tasty salad, or peanuts, raisins, rice, and sour cream for a flavorful rice salad.