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Finger food can be tricky for the healthy eater. Tiny bites that explode with flavor often are loaded with empty calories and little nutrition. If I'm not paying attention at a party, I can easily inhale a day's worth of calories, just because, well, I'm hungry. And finger food is so, you know, small. So I eat a lot.

But what if we made finger food a little healthier? A slightly more fun version of something I feel good about eating? And that's what this week's recipe is — a salad stuffed with protein and veggies, but turned portable thanks to my little secret for making a better-for-you crispy tart crust.

The trick? White bread. Yes, white bread! Don't panic. Of course, normally I go for whole-grain. But compared to a butter- or shortening-filled pie crust, a simple slice of white bread is a great compromise. And it's for a party. And did I mention it is holding salad? White bread squished flat until doughy, then sprayed lightly with olive oil and baked in a muffin tin makes an amazing crust!

Usually, these little tartlet crusts are my party vehicle of choice for salad, everything from a Chinese chicken salad to a Greek salad with salmon and yogurt dressing. Since we try to eat fish several times a week in our home, I always have some high-quality tuna stashed in my cupboard. So this week, try my salade nicoise tartlets, then feel free to make these tartlet crusts your own. A fun idea: use coconut oil instead of olive oil and fill with something sweet, such as berries and chopped mint.


10 slices of white sandwich bread, crusts removed

Olive oil cooking spray

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

10 small cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

1/4 pound thin green beans, steamed to crisp-tender and roughly chopped

5 small new or baby potatoes, cooked and thinly sliced

5-ounce can oil-packed tuna, drained

2 hardboiled eggs, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped marinated olives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a rolling pin to flatten the bread slices until doughy and thin. Spritz both sides of each slice with olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle light with salt and pepper. Press each slice into a muffin tin cup. Bake until golden, about 13 minutes. Remove the bread cups from the pan, then set aside to cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the salad. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, red wine vinegar and lemon juice. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking into a vinaigrette. Add the thyme, then season with salt and pepper.

Set aside half of the vinaigrette to use later. Add the tomatoes, lettuce and green beans to the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Once the tartlet crusts are cooled, layer the sliced potatoes on the bottom of each cup. Top the potatoes with the tomato mixture, then the crumbled eggs, tuna, chopped olives and chives. Finish each with a drizzle of dressing on top.

Start to finish • 45 minutes

Makes •10 tartlets

Nutrition information per tartlet • 220 calories; 60 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 320 mg sodium; 32 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 9 g protein.

— Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy."