Skip the fryer: Bake a batch of chickpea cakes for stuffed pitas tonight, then crumble onto pizza and a salad during the week.
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Most of us are doing good just to get dinner on the table. So whipping up a recipe base that can easily produce three meals is a life-saver for many families. Save yourself some time by make a big batch of falafel to use throughout the week. Start by stuffing some into pita sliders, then save the rest for later. Throw some on a pizza for dinner tomorrow night, then mix it into a salad for texture on night three.

The secret to the best falafel is to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked but not simmered. They retain more starch than cooked or canned, ideal for getting the crispiest cakes. Conversely, for the best hummus, start with dried soaked chickpeas and simmer for 30 minutes with a pinch of baking soda until fall-apart tender. Drain and blend while slightly warm.

Starter Dish: Falafel Pita Sliders

We make falafel patties instead of balls because the wide, flat surface area gets extra crisp when seared and baked, a lighter approach to shallow frying. Use any stuffers you like for the sandwiches, or load up as the Israelis do with a chopped cucumber and tomato salad, pickled cabbage, and tahini sauce like our homemade version.

Second Meal: Falafel Pizza

When a Middle Eastern main takes a trip to Italy via the Mediterranean, you get this fantastic vegetarian pizza. The chopped falafel warms through and toasts until crisp while the pizza bakes. Sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives give this quick pizza its bold, intense flavor (and dried tomatoes won't compromise the crispy base).

Third Meal: Falafel, Feta, and Tomato Salad

Think of chopped falafel as a tasty, protein-packed crouton—it adds texture to the salad and instantly turns a simple side into a substantial main dish. We chose a Mediterranean theme here, but you could use any nuts, cheeses, or vegetables you like.