A summer outdoor dinner party : drinks and salads

05
17

This post is sponsored by ALDI, all opinions are my own. Click here to find an ALDI near you!

A part of my life that doesn’t translate onto the blog or social media is my love for hosting! Anything from a casual cook out with friends, to a nicer dinner with a more detailed menu is fun for me. I love thinking through the prep work, paying attention to details that guests may notice, and generally enjoy cooking and baking. The clean-up often doesn’t bother me either, as I usually use that time to wind down after a fun evening with friends!

I hosted an outdoor “girl’s night” dinner party with a few friends recently and it was so much fun. The weather was perfect, it was about 70 degrees with a very soft breeze. A few days prior the temperatures were still sitting at 80 by 7:00pm, so I was thrilled to see we had a slightly cooler day on tap.

My husband strung cafe lights over our deck table, and I accessoried with plants and candles on top of a pretty printed table cloth. The vibe I was going for was a bit rustic but mostly really natural and simple. I wanted to hang some greenery from the lights but since that was our only light source I didn’t want to risk blocking too much light with it, so I left the greenery to the tabletop!

Once I knew I had 8 guests attending, I started thinking through the menu. I wanted something that wouldn’t require me to be in the kitchen the whole evening, and something a little light in case it was a bit warm that evening. Nothing is less comfortable than eating a heavy meal of chicken and potatoes outside on a warm, summery night.

After finding Naan flatbread at ALDI on a shopping trip, I decided flatbread pizzas were the way to go. I had the felixibilty to make a few different kinds, so I was sure everyone would at least find one that they liked! To go along with the pizzas I chose 2 salads, one being a bit heavier than the other. I didn’t want to mess with making the dough ahead of time, and finding everything I needed on one ALDI shopping trip made it so easy. And the low price points meant I could offer a few different flavors of pizza with interesting and delicious ingredients without a huge grocery bill.

For drinks, I knew I was going to pick up Broken Clouds Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I had a glass when I was in D.C. with ALDI and it was so good. I’m not well-versed in wine drinking, I just know what I like, and I really like the Broken Clouds Pinot Noir.

I also wanted to have a more fun, girly drink for those who don’t prefer wine. I made sparkling sangria and it was the favorite drink of the night.

Sparkling Sangria Recipe 

10 minutes prep time, serves 8-10

1 bottle sparkling Prossecco, Moscato or Champagne (I used Moiselle Sparkling Moscato Spumante)

1/3 – 1/2 cup Triple Sec 

1 lime, sliced thin

1 orange, sliced thin

6-9 strawberries, sliced thin

blueberries, raspberries or blackberries

Slice the fruit and add it to the bottom of a large glass pitcher. Pour the Moscato over top of the fruit. Finally add the Triple Sec. Stir a few times to mix, then fill the pitcher with ice. Serve immediately.

If you’ve hosted a few times before you may know that guests can congregate in the kitchen. Often it’s because they are trying to help, which is exactly what my friends did this night, but I intentionally set up the drink station and cheese board outside on the screened in porch to encourage them to be outside and enjoy the evening. I had asked my friend Caroline, who loves to cook, if she was able to come early so I could have a chance to be in the kitchen with her. I handed her the kale salad recipe as she is a healthy eater and is much more familiar with kale than I am!

The salads were a Spicy Quinoa and Kale salad and a classic Caesar Salad. I chose the Spicy Quinoa and Kale salad because it was a little bit more substantial for those who may not choose a pizza with protein on it. And for someone who doesn’t often eat kale, it was really good. The spiciness of the salad dressing completely masked the bitterness of the kale.

Spicy Quinoa and Kale Salad (original recipe can be found here)

30 minutes prep time, serves 4

Make the dressing first so it has a little time for the flavors to develop.

Spicy Dressing

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, mined

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cumin

salt + pepper to taste

Salad 

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

6 cups chopped kale, de-stemmed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn, cooked

Cook quinoa according to directions on package. In a very large bowl, add the kale and the onion. Next add corn, black beans and quinoa to the bowl, giving it a good mix. Finally top with the salad dressing. Serve immediately.

The second salad was a classic caesar that we kept simple with chopped romaine, Specially Selected Gourmet Croutons, freshly grated Priano Parmesan, and Tuscan Garden Caesar dressing.

While we were assembling the caesar salad, Nicole mentioned that she’s never had freshly grated parmesan (that she’s aware of), and we all got to talking about how vastly different it is in taste versus the grated stuff you can find on the shelf of the grocery store. I picked up a wedge of Priano Parmesan while I was at ALDI and grated it right before we added it to the salad. It added a nice element to an otherwise simple salad.

I chose to serve the salads and pizzas together so the table was full of options and full of color! The green salads and pretty flatbread pizzas looked so delicious on everyone’s plates! It was the right amount of food to save just enough room for dessert too.

I’ll be back with another post soon sharing the pizza recipes and the dessert!

This post was sponsored by ALDI, all opinions are my own.

Leave a Comment

Comments (20)

  1. Manon says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    Hi Kate,
    it is so funny to read in your post about Aldi. I actually grew up with Aldi, since I´m a german girl, and I´m quite a bit older then you. :O)
    When I read you went for dinner there, I thought strange never heard of that here, the country they actually come from, only supermarkets! But fancy that on my next shopping trip I saw that they will open a bistro this month in Cologne… how funny and small the world has become!
    Enjoyed your post, even though the products we have over here are quite different naturally, but who knows maybe I will find sometime the salty dark chocolate treats, I´m hopeless in resisting something like that! :O)
    Totally different subject/question. May I ask, do you colour your hair with foil or balayage to recieve that smooth transition of colour??
    Have a nice day!

    • Arijana C. says
      Posted May 17, 2017

      I, too, grew up shopping at Aldi’s when we lived in Germany. I now live in the States and Aldi’s recently opened up a store near me and I do majority of grocery shopping at Aldi’s. Great variety of products and fresh produce is the best.

  2. Posted May 17, 2017

    Drinks and salad is the perfect combination. Well, not so much drinks for me since I don’t like alcohol much, but I’m all about salads during the warmer weather! So refreshing!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  3. Posted May 17, 2017

    I love this idea for a summer get together! The ingredients looks so fresh and tasty, printing the recipe for my next backyard party.

  4. Posted May 17, 2017

    I am absolutely loving these pictures, it looked amazing. And the food looks so good, definitely trying some of your recipes
    M. x | http://www.touchofconfetti.com

  5. Teo says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    Hi, Kate! Because you recently mentioned you wanted to read more, I want to recommend two really good books: It’s just my nature and The child whisperer, both by Carol Tuttle. Very nice post today! All the best to you.

  6. Lisa says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    Everything looks so lovely, Kate! We’re currently having a new deck put in (which will be a bit bigger than the one we had), and I’m so looking forward to hosting on it. We’re also getting a new patio set, outdoor rug, and I’ll be adding in some pretty flowers and greenery once it’s all done too. I absolutely love hosting as well, and I can’t wait to share my space!

  7. Nicole Keller says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    We LOVE Aldi! There is 1 pretty close to our house. I’m def going to have to try that Pino!

    Nicole

  8. Esther says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    This is such a beautiful post. I am from Germany and I know Aldi. For me it is exciting to see that there are completely different articles in every country. I would love to visit an Aldi Store in the US.
    Have a nice week. Love, Esther
    https://lifestyle-tale.com

  9. Melody says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    Aldi is the best! You can find such interesting items there and at a great price point. We love trying their seasonal items as well as the every day things we use. Glad you like it as well!

  10. Posted May 17, 2017

    Great post! Aldi’s has some great options! I love their cheese section! I swear that is where I get most of my cheeses at. It’s a bummer that Pittsburgh Aldi’s near my house doesn’t carry the wine. Maybe one day we will get wine.

    Do you know if local wine stores could possibly carry that brand of wine or is it just an Aldi brand of wine?

    • Kate says
      Posted May 17, 2017

      I believe it is just an ALDI brand!

  11. Allie says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    That salad looks so delicious! Just in time to, I’ve been looking for new salad recipes to eat for my lunch.
    Thanks for such a lovely post!
    -Allie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  12. Molly says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    where are the cute lowball glasses from?!

  13. Avid reader says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    PinoT! Lol! Glad you are dabbling in the wine world, it’s fun!

  14. kelly says
    Posted May 17, 2017

    Can I be annoying and ask where you bought the super cute table cloth?

  15. Posted May 17, 2017

    That salad wooden bowl is everything! Where can I get it?

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

  16. Heather says
    Posted May 18, 2017

    Bring on the flatbread pizza recipes! Sounds like your party was a hit!

  17. Johanna says
    Posted May 19, 2017

    erm-ma-gawdddd this is like my dream dinner party. When my baby is on the outside of my body I am totally making this happen. We just built a deck on the front of our house so I cant wait for some lovely warmer weather (says me who is just entering winter here in New Zealand) so that I can host some ladies and have a pretty table. I so enjoy your blog and following you on insta. You are a sweet inspiration to me.

  18. Leslie says
    Posted May 22, 2017

    I just made pizza’s from their flatbread this weekend because it is such an easy meal for hosting. Only wish they sold pizza sauce; I couldn’t find any!