Homer Simpson once exclaimed, upon Lisa's new found vegetarianism, that, "You don't make friends with salad." Well, there are five salads in Little Rock that would prove him wrong. Salads don't have to be the measly iceberg lettuce leaves and flavorless tomatoes covered in ranch and devoured before your "main meal." Salads can be the star dish. You can pile them high with crispy vegetables, filling starches and amazing sauces. You can serve them warm or cold. For vegetarians and vegans, the salad is not just a side dish. It's an excuse to eat a plate full of food piled high and enjoy every last bite. These five salads will satisfy your taste buds and your belly.
*Thai Chop Salad at Big Orange ($11.50)
This is truly a salad that can be enjoyed by omnivorous and vegetarians alike — either enjoy this excellent salad with the listed steak or fish, or simply ask for black beans instead of the protein. The staff at Big Orange are friendly and incredibly accommodating to dietary preferences. What makes this a really great salad are the flavors. Chopped romaine, shaved cabbage, red peppers, spicy jalapenos, cilantro and toasted peanuts are all tossed in a delicious ginger soy dressing. It all works together to make a spicy, salty and sweet flavor combination that makes this one of my favorite salads in the city.
*Sesame Ginger Asian Salad at Izzy's ($7.69)
Another Little Rock salad with equally good Asian flavors is this beauty at Izzy's. The salad comes topped with almonds, mandarin oranges, cilantro, cucumber, and tomato wedges, and the home made ginger sesame dressing is powerfully potent. You can top this one with black beans for some extra heft.
*Simply Leah's Salad at The Pantry ($8.95)
The Pantry is a hidden gem for vegetarians and vegans in search of comfort food. Not only do they have great salads, but they will make you their famous rustic bowl vegan with quinoa. Today, though, we're talking about this amazing salad. Roasted baby carrots, pistachios, spinach and shaved fennel are all tossed together with creamy avocado and a light and tart lemon dressing. Add quinoa for more protein. This makes a delicious entree any time of year.
*Southwestern Quinoa Salad at The Main Cheese ($8.29)
For a grilled cheese shop, the Main Cheese does salads really well. This beauty if brought out in a large bowl and overflowing with quinoa, black beans, avocado and pumpkin seeds. The dressing is not vegan, so ask for another option. They will be happy to help.
*Syrian Salad at Layla's ($5.99)
My favorite salad in Little Rock is the Syrian Salad at Layla's. I'm not the kind of person that orders the same thing on a menu every time, especially when there are multiple vegan options. However, I cannot eat at Layla's without ordering this salad. Crisp lettuce is topped high with perfectly seasoned sauteed zucchini and summer squash, onions and tomatoes and tossed in a light lemon and oil dressing. Crispy pita bread is arranged around the end to finish off the salad. Get with a side of falafel for a delicious, crispy topping.
With all of these protein packed salads, no one could mistake them for dainty. These hearty salads make friends.
Have a favorite salad that we missed? Let us know about it down in the comments!