Watergate Salad

You might know this dish by other names: ambrosia, Pistachio Delight, green stuff–but I prefer Watergate Salad because, well, hello, all that Watergate shit went down in 1972!


12/21/1970 I’ll take any opportunity to post Elvis

Watergate Salad is definitely a party dish, and, lucky for me, I was invited to one of the biggest events of the season–Retrofurn Ronny’s 50th Birthday Party! And what a party it was. I really should have taken pictures of the spread. It was just gorgeous–cucumber sandwiches and asparagus tartletts and pulled chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts–the cheese board alone was enough to make my head fall off. Rick and Ronny really do throw the best parties.

But anyway, let’s talk about my salad!

I am sure that one of my many cookbooks contains a recipe for Watergate Salad, but I did a little internet search and came upon this gem:


I wish I could tell you where this newspaper clipping came from, but in my mind it’s from the Altoona Mirror, June 29, 1978. I wish that I knew more about Ruth Barnaby other than her name. I like to think that she is a retired schoolteacher. That photo is from the wedding of her youngest son, Paul to his blushing bride, Andrea. Aside from making molded salads, her interests are bridge, gardening, and watching Family Feud. She thinks that Richard Dawson is a handsome man.

OK, enough with that. Back to the salad!

Ruth’s recipe is all pretty standard. And with the exception of the Cool Whip and mini marshmallows, I had the rest of the ingredients on hand–because who doesn’t always have Maraschino cherries at the ready?

Since Ruth was vague about the nuts, I used almonds because that’s what was in my cupboard. And also ALMONDS. They were the star nut of the 70s!

So I folded everything together. Now this is where Ruth got a little wacky–she said to pour it in a mold. A mold? There’s no gelatin in this concoction. Why the hell would you put it in a mold? Well, I wasn’t going to question Ruth Barnaby of Altoona. So I put it in a mold. But there was so much salad that I had to use my 6-cup double-decker. That was a bold move on my part. The higher the mold, the greater the fall.

So I was a little worried about it, although, by the time it was ready for it to emerge from its copper shell, my little salad had been in the fridge for about 8 hours. I thought that it was fall right out because it was sans-Jell-O, but this salad was a tough little bastard. I went through the normal steps of hot water and shaking and wiggling and jiggling and HOLY SHIT THE WATERGATE SALAD CAME OUT IN ONE PIECE.


It kept its shape!

Dessert Table

Look at how lovely the dessert table was!


That’s a big Jell-O mold. But not as big as my hair.

And it was tasty, too! Because these picnic salads are always tasty!

I am quite proud anytime one of my molded dishes are successful. I think because I didn’t grow up with them—Jell-Os, puddings, mousses, aspics—there wasn’t a single copper mold in my childhood kitchens. Is that why I’m so into the Jell-O? I’ll have to think on that. In the meantime, this is me and the birthday boy:


We are giving FACE, bow, and tiara.
That’s some Woodward and Bernstein realness.

I hope that everyone has a lovely week! By the way, did anyone catch Supermoon last night? WILD. And Mad Men? WHAT?

This entry was posted in 1970s, Dessert, Food, Recipes, Retro Food, Retro Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Watergate Salad

  1. phairhead says:

    I love that yr hair matches the Watergate Salad…..DIVINE

  2. If there was anywhere in England that sold instant pistachio salad there is NO DOUBT I would be making one of these. Is that a “doughnut” in your hair?

  3. I know that ambrosia (and its ilk) sometimes get a bad rap and is seen as a twee, kitschy throwback by some, but gosh darnit, do I love it! The combo of cherries, plus pistachio, plus almonds is timelessly delicious in my books.

    ♥ Jessica

  4. Carol says:

    that looks fabulous!!! excellent job on the mold!!!!

  5. Trevor says:

    Los tacones Andrea Zone son, aunque con exactamente la
    misma calidad, bastante más accesibles, pues sus costes
    van desde los cien dólares americanos a los 1000.

  6. Pingback: Happy Labor Day 2015! | Dinner is Served 1972

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *