March 1, 2017 85

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing

A vegan, light lentil salad with pepperoncini dressing.
Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

When I was a kid I used to have pepperoncini eating contests with my siblings. You know like, who could eat the most without getting sick to their stomach. All the while guzzling milk to cool the heat. We were weird. And we loved pepperoncini. Our little Italian American antipasto-eating hearts couldn’t be denied of pepperoncini peppers.

Whenever I eat pepperoncini it sends me back to this carefree, familiar place. A comfortable, childlike zone. Food is crazy like that, you know? Laura’s new book gives me similar feels. The First Mess Cookbook is a beautiful extension of her blog which was the very first blog I was ever turned onto. I started reading The First Mess in 2012 when I was studying to become a health coach while embracing a strictly vegan diet. It provided great inspiration and motivation to eat beautiful, seasonal foods in a way that was both nourishing and approachable. And it remains a favorite of mine still.

Lily and Renee and me were chatting about how wonderful Laura’s book is and we all agree the abundance of lentil recipes is one of our favorite parts. This salad first drew me in with the pepperoncini dressing, but the black lentil part sealed the deal. Black lentils are so wonderful because they hold their shape which provides a substantial, hearty texture. This salad is great for cold months because it is comforting and hearty. And great for warmer months because it’s also light and refreshing. The pepperoncini dressing pulls it all together with lots of tang and a little heat. It’s everything I want and more in a bowl of lentils and vegetables.

Plant-based or not, The First Mess Cookbook should belong in everyone’s cookbook collection. It is and will forever be a mainstay in mine. To celebrate Laura and her new masterpiece, I’m giving away a copy to one of you! Check out the book here and then leave me a comment below. I’ll choose a winner at random on March 10th at noon Central, and notify the winner by email. Contest is open to readers in the United States and Canada.

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing | A crunchy lentil salad doused with a peppery, cumin pepperoncini dressing. A light lentil salad with a tangy, creamy vegan dressing.

Lentil Crunch Salad

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Serves 6 small portions

This recipe is exactly as it appears in The First Mess Cookbook except for two slight changes. I added a bay leaf into the lentils while they cook because I can't not use bay leafs when I cook lentils. And I increased the celery amount because I'm a celery freak.


  • 2 cups black lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 small red onion, diced small
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup parsley, roughly-chopped
  • pepperoncini peppers, to garnish
  • Peperoncini Dressing {see below}


  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Drop the lentils and bay leaf into the water with a big pinch of salt, and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the lentils with cold water and transfer them into a large bowl.
  2. To the bowl, add the bell peppers, onions, celery and parsley. Season the salad with salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to combine once more. Serve the salad immediately to preserve the crunch of the vegetables, with extra pepperoncini on the side.

Pepperoncini Dressing

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 6 mins
Serves ½ cup

I recommend doubling this recipe {it's so good!} and storing half of it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days for other uses dousing roasted vegetables with it or dressing leafy green salads. Or drizzling it on top of pizza? Crazy?


  • 4 pepperoncini peppers, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons pepperoncini pickling liquid
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and whiz on high until you have a creamy and smooth mixture.

{{this giveaway is closed}}

Thanks to the folks at Avery Books for gifting me an advance copy of The First Mess Cookbook! Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright. Post includes Amazon Affiliate links.


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85 Responses to "Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing"

  1. Reply

    Katy Hacker

    March 1, 2017 at 8:18 PM

    I want I want I want !

    • Reply


      March 8, 2017 at 9:20 PM

      Pepperocini dressing is brilliant!

  2. Reply

    Rachel Zahniser

    March 1, 2017 at 8:32 PM

    Looks delicious! I would love to have a copy of this cookbook.

  3. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 8:38 PM

    Would devour this book!

  4. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    You’ve made me want to literally dive into my computer and inhale this salad!

  5. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 8:58 PM

    It looks like a beautiful collection of recipes!

  6. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 8:59 PM

    I love lentils. I want to make this salad and I want this cookbook for my shelf.

  7. Reply

    Jim Clark

    March 1, 2017 at 9:01 PM

    I would but unfortunately I like black lentils but they don’t like me. Otherwise, I’d thoroughly enjoy this salad. Sulk.
    (I can eat them as a part of a topping on a sunchoke soup but that’s it. Long sigh.)

  8. Reply

    Deneen mueller

    March 1, 2017 at 9:06 PM

    Will be making this salad for sure!

  9. Reply

    Sandy R

    March 1, 2017 at 9:13 PM

    This recipe looks easy and delicious. I’m going to try it.

  10. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 9:15 PM

    I’d love to try this recipe. I’ve never had a pepperoncini!

  11. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 9:17 PM

    Love the idea of the pepperoncini dressing! The book looks like, as you’ve said, a ‘must add’ to my cookbook collection. I’d love to win a copy.

  12. Reply

    Dee Johnson

    March 1, 2017 at 9:18 PM

    This looks like a great cookbook! I always love trying new plant-based recipes.

  13. Reply

    Beth P.

    March 1, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    I’m a fan if The First Mess blog too, and I would love to have this cookbook!

  14. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Looks like my kind of cookbook, and would love to have a copy of it!

  15. Reply

    Lisa Michelle Gray

    March 1, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    This recipe looks amazing! The cookbook would be a super wonderful birthday gift for me!

  16. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 9:59 PM

    So much anticipation for this cookbook! I especially love that you shared a lentil recipe – the little gems are the backbone to my cooking. I also have fond memories of pepperoncinis and their prevalence in the Italian-American household ;)

  17. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 10:15 PM

    Wow, I never thought of pepperoncini dressing! I love Laura’s blog too. Thanks for the chance to win this giveaway.

  18. Reply

    Jillian Brooks

    March 1, 2017 at 10:24 PM

    This would be great next to my ottolenghi cookbook. So many plants, so little time.

    • Reply


      March 1, 2017 at 10:41 PM

      Haha, I completely agree!

  19. Reply

    Sj Dc

    March 1, 2017 at 11:06 PM

    love her blog and hope to win this delicious looking book

  20. Reply


    March 1, 2017 at 11:33 PM

    Looks delish. I want that book!

  21. Reply

    Elizabeth W

    March 1, 2017 at 11:42 PM

    OH my gosh would love to snag the book and the recipe looks delish!

  22. Reply

    Mianna Harlepp

    March 2, 2017 at 12:26 AM

    Pepperoncini contests! So fun. And a yummy lentil salad. I can’t wait to make. Thank you!

  23. Reply

    Diana Ngo

    March 2, 2017 at 12:28 AM

    This looks and sounds amazing! Laura’s book has been blowing up all over Instagram. Can’t wait to check it out.

  24. Reply

    Wilma Stoy

    March 2, 2017 at 2:17 AM

    Lentils and more hooray! Who would not want another good cookbook. Waiting, and thanks.

  25. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 4:10 AM

    So pretty, this book! it seems to be the book that everyone wants to have home! I have already seen some of the recipes from this book but so willing to have this book too! Love lentiles and would be so eager to make this salad soon!
    Thank you so much!

  26. Reply

    Deborah Brigadier

    March 2, 2017 at 5:19 AM

    What’s not to love? Thanks for featuring this cookbook and this recipe.

  27. Reply

    Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    March 2, 2017 at 5:54 AM

    I have been wanting this book for sooo long! I love Laura’s blog, and she was one of the bloggers that revolutionized how I thought about putting meals together. That whole Midwestern meat and potatoes mentality was REALLY hard to overcome. xoxo

  28. Reply

    Jen S

    March 2, 2017 at 6:19 AM

    My husband loves pepperoncini, so this recipe would be perfect for us. Yum!

  29. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 6:46 AM

    Would LOVE this book! I adore her blog, such creative and flavorful foods!

  30. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 6:51 AM

    Would love to have more recipes like this!

  31. Reply

    Janet T

    March 2, 2017 at 7:03 AM

    What a wonderful combination in that recipe. I have to make it!

  32. Reply

    Mackenzie Jayne

    March 2, 2017 at 7:47 AM

    Yes please! I need to expand the plant based part of my cookbook shelf.

  33. Reply

    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings

    March 2, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    Love lentils especially when covered with that delicious dressing!

  34. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    I’ve been seeing this book all over the internet with a few tantalizing peeks at what’s inside. Would love to own it.

  35. Reply

    Molly S

    March 2, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    Wow looks so good! I love ANYTHING pepperoncini.

  36. Reply

    Micah T

    March 2, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    I’ve been wanting this cookbook so badly!

  37. Reply

    Amy Skemp

    March 2, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    Can’t wait to try this. It sounds amazing.

  38. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    I love pepperoncini peppers and crunchy salads. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  39. Reply

    Heather Carlson

    March 2, 2017 at 4:51 PM

    You had me at pepperoncini. Can’t wait to try this!

  40. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 6:34 PM

    Would love to have a copy of this one!

  41. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 6:55 PM

    I also would really love to win this book.

  42. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 7:15 PM

    Ohhhh looks so good.

  43. Reply

    Morgan Verble

    March 2, 2017 at 7:46 PM

    Everything looks so delicious!

  44. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 7:49 PM

    What a beautiful book!

  45. Reply

    Valentina | The Blue Bride

    March 2, 2017 at 7:53 PM

    I’ve been a fan of Laura’s for years now, and I’m so curious about her book!

  46. Reply

    Cherie Hudson

    March 2, 2017 at 8:15 PM

    Wow! I love pepperoncinis! What a creative way to use them. I also bought a bag of black lentils a couple of months ago and didn’t know what to do with them. Now I definitely have A recipe I am looking forward to testing out. Thank you for sharing and introducing us to what promises to be a wonderful cookbook.

  47. Reply

    catherine h.

    March 2, 2017 at 9:40 PM

    This looks amazing! I cannot wait to try it out for myself. The cookbook looks wonderful as well.

  48. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 10:34 PM

    I would love this book!

  49. Reply


    March 2, 2017 at 11:29 PM

    Wow, that looks so good. Thanks for the recipe!

  50. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 4:16 AM

    Doing it.

  51. Reply

    Margaret G

    March 3, 2017 at 6:25 AM

    Looks so good!

  52. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 8:10 AM

    Great idea! I’ve been looking for a way to use some leftover lentils that I bought for another recipe.

  53. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 8:50 AM

    Looks like a great cookbook! Great recipes, pictures, everything!

  54. Reply

    Shoshana Rose

    March 3, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    I love pepperoncinis but my husband, not so much, so this would be all mine! I love The First Mess blog and would be honored to win this cookbook!!

  55. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Trying to add more lentils to our daily diet. This sounds incredibly delicious.

  56. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    Sounds like a great cookbook! Can hardly wait to try the free recipe, especially the dressing.

  57. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 12:20 PM

    Looks delicious!

  58. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 2:51 PM

    This looks amazing.

  59. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 3:09 PM

    This book looks fabulous.

  60. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 3:58 PM

    I follow her blog already and would love to have her book!

  61. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 4:24 PM

    The recipes look delicious!

  62. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 7:14 PM

    I have been so excited for this cookbook to come out and have followed her blog for a few years now. Can’t wait to try the multi-grain pancakes.

  63. Reply


    March 3, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    The dressing sounds delicious. I’d love this book!

  64. Reply


    March 4, 2017 at 5:08 AM

    The salad reminds me of warm weather that I am longing for. Definitely will be trying it this weekend! Thanks for sharing.

  65. Reply


    March 4, 2017 at 6:01 AM

    You know, what I really like about this is that it’s not just a colorful salad, but a colorful salad with some substance. And that’s definitely a good thing. Thanks for sharing, and go Laura! (keeping my fingers crossed, hehe)

  66. Reply

    Linda Zaworski

    March 4, 2017 at 6:17 AM

    Ohh! Ohh! Pick me! Pick me! I would love to have this book. I’ve been vegan for 17 months and still learning so much. My tastes have changed tremendously and I’m learning to love all kinds of new foods.

  67. Reply

    Jessie Snyder

    March 4, 2017 at 8:43 AM

    This is so beautiful Sherrie! I totally agree everyone should have this book in their kitchen if they enjoy food to any degree, it’s a work of art. I love your love for these peppers – I need to try them again! It’s been so long. Happy weekend to you girl, and thank you for all of the beauty you put out into the world each week! xx

  68. Reply

    Barbara K

    March 4, 2017 at 6:33 PM

    This book looks great. New to vegan – this will help me get started on the right foot.

  69. Reply

    Natalia M

    March 5, 2017 at 7:37 AM

    I’ve been seeing recipes from Laura’s book pop up on different blogs, and they all seem so simple and approachable. I want to make every single one of them.

  70. Reply


    March 5, 2017 at 10:16 AM

    This is a fantastic looking book. I’m trying to eat more salads now instead of the pastas I usually go for.

  71. Reply


    March 5, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    This looks delicious! I can’t wait to check out Laura’s book. I have been eagerly anticipating it for a while now.

  72. Reply


    March 5, 2017 at 7:02 PM

    I’m making this tonight! I love Laura’s blog and am excited for her cookbook.

  73. Reply


    March 6, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Really wanting Laura’s new book! She is amazing and I know her book will be too. Have a wonderful week Sherrie!

  74. Reply


    March 6, 2017 at 4:16 PM

    Making this salad right now – the dressing is amazing!

  75. Reply


    March 7, 2017 at 12:32 AM

    As a college student, lentil salads are one of my go-to lunches! This one looks bright and crisp, but also like it would fuel me through long days of studying. I know I’d love Laura’s book.

  76. Reply

    Diane H

    March 7, 2017 at 10:21 AM


  77. Reply


    March 7, 2017 at 3:03 PM

    How is it that every recipe I have seen a blogger share of Laura’s has immediately been added to my bookmarks?! This one included. Thinking of maybe adding that dressing on top of some chickpea pasta.

  78. Reply


    March 8, 2017 at 7:40 PM

    Every recipe I’ve seen from this cookbook has made my mouth water!

  79. Reply

    Amanda Bustos

    March 8, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    I love her blog (and yours!) and want this cookbook in my life!

  80. Reply


    March 9, 2017 at 6:21 AM

    That salad looks delicious! I would love a copy of her cookbook.

  81. Reply


    March 9, 2017 at 7:27 AM

    I’ve been waiting for this book for so long! And I can’t wait to try this pepperonicini salad-what a stunning flavor combo!

  82. Reply


    March 9, 2017 at 1:56 PM

    This salad looks divine! Thanks for sharing!

  83. Reply


    March 9, 2017 at 2:46 PM

    Ahhhh!!! I’ve been following Laura for the past few months and her recipes are incredible and the only ones to satisfy my meat eating husband. Crossing my fingers!

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With Food + Love © 2018 | All photos + words belong to Sherrie Castellano -- they cannot be used or distributed without permission.