Jilly Simmons is a Lanzarote resident who has just written and published a vegetarian and vegan cookbook that will be sold in aid of SARA animal shelter. We chatted with her last month.
Have you been vegetarian for long, Jilly?
I’ve never liked the idea of eating animals and even as a child I’d refuse to eat certain meats. As I grew older I realised that it was also healthier and that the terribly loaded and heavy feeling I got after eating meat didn’t happen if I stopped eating it. It’s about living more easily with myself, really, and I’ve been doing it happily for more than 20 years.
Did you have problems being vegetarian when you first came to Lanzarote?
Of course. I remember ordering a lentil soup and finding chunks of ham in it, then ordering a pizza and they put chorizo on the edges “because it looked boring.” Things are improving a lot, though, and even though vegetarian ingredients and dishes in restaurants can be pretty expensive, it’s great to see them available.
Do you eat meat substitutes?
I’ve never seen the need for them, I’m not militant about this lifestyle. I’d rather change people’s minds by providing tasty dishes. In the same way, cooking for vegan friends has taught me a lot about that lifestyle.
Tell us about the book.
It’s to raise funds for SARA and I’ve been working on it for a long time. It’s divided into different sections where you can find starters, main courses, salads, desserts, cakes and smoothies, suitable for vegetarians and for vegans. The cover is lovely, I think, but inside it’s just black and white with no photos. That means I can charge €10 and hopefully sell plenty.
Are there any local Lanzarote ingredients you like particularly?
Just all the fresh local produce: tomatoes, onions, potatoes and courgettes. I’ve invented a “Volcano Salad” that highlights local food, and the Sweet Potato Quiche is also very local.
Sweet Potato Quiche:
2 sliced sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Sliced onion + garlic to taste
1 bag baby spinach
4 large eggs plus 2 egg whites
Salt & pepper
100g grated cheese
Boil the sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes until just tender, then mash gently and spread over the base of a flan dish. In the meantime, heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Heat the oil, cook the onion, garlic and spinach. Mix the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, pepper and grated cheese. Pour onion/spinach mix over sweet potatoes, gently add the egg mix. Cook for 30 minutes until eggs are set.