Summer Kick-Off Party & The Best Grilled Vegetables with Whipped Garlic Feta Dip

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Summer Kick-Off Party & The Best Grilled Vegetables with Whipped Garlic Feta Dip

I’d like to thank ALDI for sponsoring this post about my recent summer party and this useful vegetarian cookout menu.  Thank you for supporting posts like this that keep Running in a Skirt going!  Stay tuned for a $250 dollar ALDI gift card giveaway next Tuesday.

This past weekend I hosted a party to kick off the summer season.  Today I’m sharing the highlights, which include a musttry vegetarian cookout menu and my favorite grilled vegetables… WITH Whipped Garlic Feta Dip. 

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Hi friends,

This past weekend I had a small group of close friends over for the first cookout of the season… a summer kick-off party of sorts.  Once we hit those first few 80-degree days of the year and I’ve planted my flowers, I’m itching to use my deck for a party.  There really is something special about the first outdoor party of the season.

I wanted to keep the party fun and simple, but still share some of my favorite recipes for a vegetarian cookout menu with my friends.  I settled on serving my homemade Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole, my favorite Summer Grilled Vegetables (with Whipped Garlic Feta Dip! <—because feta makes everything betta!,) Grilled Sweet Potato Salad and Watermelon Blueberry Feta Salad.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

I did my shopping at ALDI because I knew I could get what I needed for so much less than other stores.  I got everything I needed for this vegetarian cookout menu – appetizers, an entrée, sides, three salads, desserts and wine (for 12 people!) – for less than $150. I’ve spent upwards of $300 for similar menus before! (Price and availability may vary)

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

I keep going back to ALDI because they keep blowing me away with their amazing prices on all sorts of food, including organics.  I always keep my eyes peeled for their SimplyNature line, which is free of artificial colors, flavors and unnecessary enhancers.  While I was there, I also picked up some of their ready-made appetizers to serve before the main meal and the Little Salad Bar Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit to add to my menu.

I also stocked up on ALDI award-winning premium wines, like the Essenza di Vita Pinot Grigio, Broken Clouds Chardonnay and the Broken Clouds Pinot Noir.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

My friends arrived and the evening started with some SimplyNature Organic Tortilla chips and Little Salad Bar Salsas.  Soooo tasty and fresh!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

I also put together an appetizer tray with fresh ALDI produce, Clancy’s Pretzel Rods, Savoritz Rosemary & Olive Oil Woven Wheat Baked Crackers, Little Salad Bar Hummus and Pimento Cheese and SimplyNature almonds and pistachios.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

This spread of course all came from ALDI and took me no time at all to throw together.  It just looks fancy :-)!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

For drinks I served up a big pitcher of Lemon-Cucumber Water and, of course, the wine.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Everyone was impressed at the quality of the wine!  They loved the flavor and great price tag.  All of those bottles were included in my $150 party shopping trip.  You can’t beat that!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Needless to say it quickly disappeared!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

After some mingling and hanging out, it was finally time to serve my vegetarian cookout menu!

My Black Bean Burgers and Watermelon Blueberry Salad were a hit!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Everyone was asking about my grilled vegetables and the addictive Whipped Garlic Feta Dip.

Since I got so many requests, I’m sharing the recipe below!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

My Grilled Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad was also a new recipe idea that I’ll have to share with y’all next week.  It’s such a fun and easy vegetarian grilling idea.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Everyone filled their plates with all sorts of wholesome, delicious goodness.   This is the Little Salad Bar Sweet Kale Salad.  I love how much kale it has in it! Other bagged salads I buy are full of fillers like broccoli slaw but not this one.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

This entire plate is healthy and nourishing but still totally party-worthy.  I’ve thrown a lot of parties over the years, but I dare say this is the best vegetarian cookout menu I’ve put together… all thanks to ALDI!

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

After dinner we talked, played yard games and had a little more wine.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

And for a little while the world seemed just about perfect.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Even the kiddos had a good time.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

For dessert I made a self-serve ice cream tray in honor of the season with ALDI Specially Selected Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream… plus some fun toppings all found at ALDI.  Because what kicks off summer more than ice cream?

This is such a great way to have dessert at your cookout without having to do a bunch of work, AND everyone picks exactly what they want.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

Plus we had such a healthy meal that it was time to spring for a treat.  The ice cream was so smooth and creamy.  Everyone said that it was really good ice cream.

Summer parties have a certain magical quality to them.  The menus are so easy, the weather is so warm and everyone just seems so darn happy.

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Menu / Running in a Skirt

The only thing that would have made the evening better is if all of you could have been there!

What a cookout! Love this Vegetarian Cookout Menu from Running in a SkirtClick To Tweet

And oh yes… about that Whipped Garlic Feta Dip???  Click over for the full recipe and more details about the party. —>

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By | 2018-02-11T18:20:09+00:00 May 25th, 2017|All Vegetarian, Asheville / WNC Living, Food, Fun, Grilling, Recipes|31 Comments


  1. Miz Helen June 6, 2017 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Congratulations,your post has been featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, we have really enjoyed it and hope you enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen
    Miz Helen recently posted…Garden Tour June 2017My Profile

  2. Liz May 31, 2017 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Um can I please come next time! This looks like the best party ever! I had a Memorial Day BBQ and definitely purchased all my goods from ALDI too!
    Liz recently posted…Comment on Smashed Baked Potato Nourish Bowl – Vegan + Gluten Free by Elizabeth ShawMy Profile

  3. Mary Ellen | VNutrition May 30, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

    All this food looks amazing Julie! I love your cute little touches like the chalkboard and sign for the cucumber lemon water – to me that’s a sign of a wonderful hostess. The menu looks delicious. There aren’t any ALDI’s by me but from your post, I wish there was!

  4. [email protected] May 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    I find good buys at Aldi for avocados, eggs, milk and olives. I should try the ice cream!
    [email protected] recently posted…Florida Fun in Our New RVMy Profile

  5. Edye May 27, 2017 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I LOVE Aldi! My family and I shop there all the time and always find such great deals. Also, how cool is their European food variety?! 🙂
    Edye recently posted…“The Shack” Comes Out On Blu-Ray/DVD May 30th {+giveaway}My Profile

  6. Jeffrey May 26, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I’d buy some Fresh Atlantic Salmon On a Cedar Plank to grill up, along with some fruits and vegetables!

  7. Kristina @ Love & Zest May 26, 2017 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    What a cute party! Love the layout of everything and it all looked soooo amazing. Lucky are the people that got to eat that food!
    Kristina @ Love & Zest recently posted…Hawaiian Quinoa BowlMy Profile

  8. elena May 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    The cookout looks great. I can’t wait for summer to start here. Even though it’s officially started here it’s raining all the time and it’s cold. Hope for sunny days very soon.

  9. [email protected] May 26, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Loved seeing your summer kick off party and all that yummy food! I pinned recipes for future reference!
    [email protected] recently posted…John Denver Got It Right About Sunshine!My Profile

  10. Emily @Sinful Nutrition May 26, 2017 at 6:39 am - Reply

    Look at that spread! 😀 I want in on all of it!
    Emily @Sinful Nutrition recently posted…WIAW: Tuna TwosdaysMy Profile

  11. Annemarie LeBlanc May 26, 2017 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Every thing on the menu looks so delicious! I would love to have some of your grilled black bean burger. I have heard so many good reviews about it. Your patio looks pretty too!

  12. [email protected] May 26, 2017 at 3:31 am - Reply

    OMG everything looks so delicious! I would definitely have enjoyed myself at your summer party! Here in Norway our summer is very limited and it makes me super sad sometimes. I used to love Aldi when I was in the states. It is a great place to shop.

  13. Gingermommy May 26, 2017 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Looks like a yummy feast full of fresh tasty ingredients

  14. Farrah May 25, 2017 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I could get so, so many delicious things at Aldi for $250!!! :O!!!

    That cookout menu looks all sorts of amazing! I want everything! *-* Will have to settle for salivating while staring at the computer screen though, heheh. Looks like an amazing time! <3

  15. heather @Lunging Through Life May 25, 2017 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Oh gosh I love buying everything, haha. But i do love their cereal!
    heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Dear Baby BoyMy Profile

  16. Summer May 25, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful spread! you have some lucky friends and family! There is not a single thing on your menu that doesn’t sound delightful.
    Summer recently posted…Mouthwatering Sushi Bowl with Incredible Wasabi DressingMy Profile

  17. Tasting Page May 25, 2017 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Oh man, what a great looking spread. I want to come to THAT party. A great way to kick off summer!

  18. [email protected] May 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    That watermelon salad looks so good! Also, we love Aldi for all the basics. If we lose bed closer to one, I’d shop there more.
    [email protected] recently posted…‘Medical Clowning Is a Thing and It Could Totally Get You PregnantMy Profile

  19. Blane Sherer May 25, 2017 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Vey nice !
    Glad all went well.

  20. Erlene May 25, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    I love shopping at Aldi and love their prices too. The only downside is they sell out quickly near us and you have to go when they stock their produce if I want the good stuff…lol.

  21. Abbey Sharp May 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Looks like it was a super fun party! Love all the food and colours.
    Abbey Sharp recently posted…Gluten Free Chicken Satay with Thai Almond Sauce | Grilled Summer AppetizersMy Profile

  22. Michelle May 25, 2017 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Yummy. If I had a party ideas be all over the fruits and veggies myself

  23. Amanda Brooks May 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    adorable party!! I actually love doing all the decor and finding ways to make healthy foods that they’ll eat without even realizing they are healthy, ha!!
    Amanda Brooks recently posted…7 Habits of Highly Fit People that You Can Easily DoMy Profile

  24. Looks like a great spread!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Wrapping Up The Girls On The Run SeasonMy Profile

  25. Beth May 25, 2017 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Wow! I want to be invited to YOUR next party. Everything is presented so beautifully and the food looks AMAZING! Is everything from Aldi? If so, I’m impressed. 🙂

  26. Alexa May 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Like Susie, I hope we are invited! This is a beautiful spread. I am eyeing those grilled vegetables. I don’t think of grilling vegetables. Thank you for the inspiration!

  27. Divya May 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Everything looks so delicious!! Garlic and feta are my favorite!! The combination is bound to be fabulous 🙂

  28. Jessica @Nutritioulicious May 25, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    That garlic feta dip sounds amazing! I want to be a part of this party! 😀
    Jessica @Nutritioulicious recently posted…By: Menu Plan Monday: March 20, 2017My Profile

  29. Emily May 25, 2017 at 9:40 am - Reply

    It’s hard to find perfect smooth creamy icecream; I’ve never tried Aldi’s, but it sounds delicious. And your party looks dreamy; you have such a wonderful space for entertaining and a gift for entertaining. Everything is so beautiful.
    Emily recently posted…Why I Hope To Never Weigh Myself Again (Podcast)My Profile

  30. Andrea on Vacation May 25, 2017 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Everything looks so colorful! If I had a party I’d end up spending $150 on wine 🙂
    Andrea on Vacation recently posted…I went to Spacecamp!My Profile

  31. Susie @ Suzlyfe May 25, 2017 at 7:00 am - Reply

    And where was my invite! I would have loved to come! I love your menu!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Test Your Knowledge with this Running IQ Quiz (Coaches Corner)My Profile

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