MY VALENTINE + PATACHOU’S ENSALADA FRESCA + BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! We celebrated a day early at our favorite spot, St. Elmo’s, in downtown Indy. Nothing says love quite like overdosing on shrimp cocktail, steak, mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and bread.

St. Elmo’s will always hold a special place in my heart. My parents got me a brick with my name on it outside of the restaurant when I left the Statehouse in 2012, uncertain about where I would land. Surprise! I am still in Indy and I don’t ever plan on leaving again. It is a city full of opportunity and a whole lot of people that are very important to me.

We split a steak (the way to go) and I wholeheartedly approve of the sprouts, which if you know anything about me, I am a sprouts connoisseur. Theirs are roasted with balsamic, maple, onions, and BACON. They arrive at your table in an adorable little Staub cast iron skillet. St. Elmo’s opened in 1902, so it’s an Indy tradition and I could spend hours looking at all of the signed black and white photos that line the hallways.

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Since people ask, the shoes are Old Navy. Do not spend $200 on these trendy lace-up flats! They no longer have them in red, but you can get them in other colors (here) and for $30, you can’t beat it. I also have them in black from the Gap. The leather pants were $30 at Nordstrom and an unusual Libby purchase. It’s like yoga pants, but sleek and sassy. I almost slid out of our booth at St. Elmo’s, but it’s a fun date night look for 30-degree weather.

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My boyfriend knows me well. Bakers Gonna Bake sweatshirt. Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart approved.

The recipe inspiration is from a Patachou lunch I had with a Statehouse friend this week. I get in a rut when I go to Patachou (hippie with the Benz omelet, tomato artichoke soup, etc.), but I was feeling adventurous this time. I ordered the ensalada fresca and added chicken (a girl needs protein). AMAZING. The combination of black beans, slightly melted feta, butternut squash, and ranch make this a filling salad on a cold day.

I’ve also included a recipe below for a butternut squash soup that I recently made. Can you tell I am on a butternut squash kick? I cannot get enough of it. It’s so simple and good for you. I have a Vitamix, which makes this soup effortless to make, but any blender will do.

PATACHOU’S ENSALAD FRESCA – LIBBY’S WAY

Here’s what you need:

  • Arugula
  • Black beans
  • Chicken
  • Butternut squash (roasted with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
  • Feta
  • Ranch (I like the Boathouse Farms ranch in the refrigerated are of the produce section. It’s low sugar, made with yogurt, and tastes just as good as homemade.)

Mix it all together and enjoy!

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I signed up for Green Bean delivery again!
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Beautiful rainbow radishes from Green Bean

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Recipe via Cookie and Kate

  • 1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste (You could also leave this out – I stirred in a dollop of Kerrygold salted at the very end, while it was still warm)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside. Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
  4. Transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can stir in any remaining broth later). Blend! If you want to thin out your soup a bit more, add the remaining cup of broth.

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My Valentine last year. This year I have two Valentines and I couldn’t be happier.

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XO, Libby

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