Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Vegan “Custard”

 Vegan, Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined VeganA few years back I remember asking the produce guy at the Walmart* where I shop if they had by any slim chance some fresh fennel hidden in the back storeroom. I knew it was futile, but what the hell, right? My request was met with a blank stare as I feebly tried to explain what it looked like and how it tasted. Did he know what anise was? No? Well…okay, then. Then out of nowhere about three weeks ago, beautiful bulbs of fennel appeared tucked next to the jalapeño peppers and the pile of gingerroot. I’ve been a little fennel-mad ever since. Who knows when they may decide to stop carrying it??

*Please refrain from leaving negative comments about Walmart. The next time you live 25 minutes from the nearest “big” town – where Walmart is the only game in town – and two hours away from a Whole Foods you can be as judgmental as you want.

This earthy green dish is, I think, an ideal way to celebrate Earth Day. Celebrate the good stuff that’s in the main ingredients in this dish:


  • A one cup serving of fresh fennel delivers 17% of your daily dose of the antioxidants vitamin C and A
  • get your roughage! Consuming fiber may lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • this flavorful herb may be good for your digestion and for decreasing, um, passing wind


  • protect your cells from free radicals with this vitamin C-rich veggie
  • contains lutein which is good for eye health
  • contains manganese – a powerful mineral that, like vitamin C – protects your body from damage from free radicals

Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan



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Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Vegan “Custard”

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  • Author: Annie
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 140
  • Yield: 4 1x


Roasting takes vegetables to a whole new flavor level. Turn them into a creamy vegan custard and you have a very special light meal or appetizer.


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stems and fronds removed (reserve some fronds), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 7-ounces extra firm silken tofu
  • 1 Tbsp. mild white miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • juice of 1 lemon


Roast the vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, fennel, zucchini, onion, garlic, black pepper, fennel seeds, and garlic powder. Pour onto a large baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring once or twice. The vegetables should be browned at the edges and very soft.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let cool slightly – or store in the refrigerator until ready to make the soufflés. Reserve 4 zucchini rounds for decorating the tops of the soufflés.

Prepare the custard

  1. Put the cashews, vegetable broth, tofu, miso, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a high speed blender. Process until very smooth. Now add the roasted vegetables and process again. Add a tablespoon or two of broth or water if needed to get the mixture turning. You want it to be fairly smooth, but there will still be some texture.
  2. Divide the mixture between 4, 8-ounce oven-safe ramekins. Tap the ramekins on the counter a few times. Decorate the tops with the reserved zucchini slices and a few fennel fronds. Place the ramekins in a Pyrex baking dish. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  3. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the soufflés are firm to the touch. The sides will have browned a little bit. Let the ramekins sit in the water bath for a few minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Serve immediately or place the soufflés in the ‘frige to be enjoyed later.


  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 286
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 348
  • Fat: 16
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 30
  • Protein: 13
  • Cholesterol: 0


 Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan


Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Gluten-free Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Custard from An Unrefined Vegan




20 thoughts on “Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, & Garlic Vegan “Custard”

  1. Angela @ Canned Time

    What about those of us who live 5 miles from 3 Healthy Food Groceries and about 7 regular and we still shop weekly at Walmart…..? Sorry, I just had to make the jab at your previous incident with them 😉
    I made bread sticks with fennel and the fronds and that was my first time using fresh fennel. We really enjoyed fennel sliced up raw in salads too. This looks so creamy and WOW, all the flavors it must be a powerhouse. Love the nutritional yeast too.
    Can you make zucchini noodles? We’ve been making them a bunch since Christmas and they use up at least 2 medium zucs per plate usually. Actually, zucchini noodles might be fabulous with a thinned down version of your custard here.
    And guess what? I got the last 2 posts in my email from you after 2 years I think of trying to follow you. YAY!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      I’m a bit Walmart sensitive, I guess :-). I’m grateful for the store we have – the produce is wonderful and they get new GF and vegan products all of the time. Nuff said.

      I have a spiralizer, but don’t use it nearly enough. But…as summer comes on, I’m sure that I’ll be digging it out and using it.

      Hey! How about that! Glad to hear that something clicked with WP and you’re getting notifications.

  2. Poppy

    This is such an interesting recipe Annie! I’m not a fennel lover, I can only think of one application where I have liked it! Maybe these would be a good one to try!!

      1. Poppy

        Oh asparagus sounds amazing, I wonder about doing half and half? I make a fennel and squash lasagne that I love as the fennel is tamed by the sweet squash and roasting so you never know! I’ll give it a go!

  3. Dianne

    I actually don’t have a Walmart near me, but I’ve heard that they have tons of healthy foods! I can guarantee you that the Whole Foods employees probably don’t know what fennel is either.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Dianne, you are RIGHT about that! There is always much confusion when I purchase fennel. And other veggies, too. I often get, “what do you do with THIS?!” And pretty much always get, “You eat so healthy!”

      1. Cadry's Kitchen

        That’s funny!! That happens to me often at the natural foods Co-op where I shop. People often ask what particular foods are or how to use them.

  4. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    What an interesting idea! I have been loving fennel lately.

    And absolutely no judgement on the Walmart. Right now I am lucky as I live in a big city where I have access to so many independent retailers, but it was not always the case. I can totally relate!

  5. Cadry's Kitchen

    Gorgeous recipe, Annie! Regarding Wal-Mart, the business itself has lots of flaws obviously, but I’m delighted whenever very mainstream businesses sell niche products. Because even if people live next door to a health food store, not everyone goes to them. To many people, the health food store’s bulk bins, natural products, and lack of Doritos seems very foreign. I’m glad when healthy foods meet people where they are – and in some cases that’s Wal-Mart.

  6. Jae

    Sounds delicious. I need to be soy free as well so I may experiment, thinking maybe some So Delicious plain Greek style coconut yogurt and chia seeds to thicken it up more to be closer to a tofu consistency.
    I gotta tell you how I came upon your recipe! I’m a huge doctor who fan and there is a episode where he eats fish fingers and custard and as gross as that sounds, I’ve been obsessed with finding a vegan version that would actually taste good. Sophie ‘s kitchen makes vegan seafood and fish sticks are one of the available products. Your custard recipe is the first I’ve come across that I didn’t cringe at the thought of the flavors mixing. You seriously made my day! I just hope I can make it work with substitutions. Fish fingers and custard vegan style! Woohoo!!! 🙂

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Hey Jae! So nice of you to visit! I haven’t tried making a custard w/ non-dairy yogurts so unfortunately I have NO idea how this might turn out w/ that substitution. I have a feeling it might separate under heat – or even impart an undesirable sweetness to the recipe. I do know that there are non-soy tofu recipes out there (what comes to mind first is chickpea “tofu”) so you might do a little research on that. Instead I think I’d go w/ a cashew-based custard which I think would thicken up nicely in the oven in a water bath. Here’s a recipe that you could modify (replacing the soy milk w/ another non-dairy milk; maybe whisking in a thickener like cornstarch) – eliminating the crust, obviously, and baking in small ramekins in a water bath:

  7. Pingback: Fennel Demystified: How to Benefit From This Powerful Plant | Health Senses by

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