Ed. Note—It's the Fourth of July! And what better way to wow your barbecue attendees with this riff on traditional bruschetta? Chef Aaron Vinten of The Athletes Table joins us for this simple, healthy, delicious recipe that tastes great any time, but tastes especially good sitting in a folding chair, outside, right after you've finished your 4th of July self-imposed century.

I swear there is just about something for everyone at Trader Joe’s. For example, on my last trip through TJ’s, I ran into this Italian Bruschetta sauce. I'm pretty sure that it's been around TJ’s for some time, but I have never seen it. This stuff is awesome! It's a well seasoned combination of plum tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil and is a major ingredient in this recipe that will have you cooking this recipe on the regular. Think of it as a very chunky and thick marinara sauce. I might be going blind by not seeing this bruschetta before, but I certainly DO KNOW exactly what to do with it!  ROASTED. BRUSCHETTA. SALMON.  And if you’re the hangry athlete type…then this one is for you!

This Trader Joe's bruschetta sauce really made this recipe delicious and easy to make.

When summer rolls around, most athletes will often see a spike in training load. The sun is out, the weather is nice and when you get back home you want to EAT!  Luckily this spectacular salmon dish is fast, flavorful and a potent source of protein to help you nail your recovery.  Kim Larson, R.D., C.D., CSSD, says that “Not only is salmon one of the best sources of protein for athletes, but the health benefits derived from one of its main components, omega-3 fatty acids, are exceptionally abundant. Salmon contains higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than most other seafood species, making it one of the healthiest food choices available. The omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart by reducing blood clotting factors and lowering triglycerides and blood pressure. In some people they may increase HDL, the good cholesterol, as well.”

Chef Aaron's Bruschetta Salmon fresh out of the oven and topped with parmesan, balsamic glaze and basil.

For this recipe, we mixed up a combination of the TJ’s bruschetta sauce with some fresh cherry tomatoes, salty capers, fragrant fresh basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and a dash of cayenne pepper.  A bit of fresh dill would have been nice too.  Then, we pan roasted the fresh atlantic salmon filets (also at Trader Joe’s) in a bit of olive oil, topped it with the bruschetta mixture and then put it into the oven to roasted uncovered for 10 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, top it off with some fresh basil, parmesan cheese, balsamic glaze (at TJ's as well) and a bit more of the tomatoes mixture.  SO EASY! SO DELICIOUS!


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I’m about to make your shopping trip super easy…all this came from Trader Joe’s.  Everything you see. The salmon, tomatoes, asparagus, parmesan cheese, lemon, basil, capers…ALL OF IT. Pretty easy shopping right?!

All of the ingredients for this recipe came from Trader Joe's.

One thing I like about Trader Joe’s is the fresh salmon that they have. I typically purchase seafood from Whole Foods, Santa Monica Seafood or my local farmers, but I will also buy salmon from Trader Joe’s.  It’s a great tasting piece of fish that is sustainably farmed in Norway, is flavorful and doesn’t dry out even if you over cook it a bit. To serve 4 people, as this recipe calls for, I will purchase two packages of the fresh atlantic salmon and cut them into 4 large filets. 


LET'S GET COOKING! In a mixing bowl combine the Trader Joe’s bruschetta sauce with the capers, quartered cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped basil and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.

Combine the TJ's Bruschetta sauce with lemon, capers, basil and cherry tomato.

There really isn’t a right or wrong recipe combination for this. Just make it how you like it and adjust any ingredient to your preference. The addition of fresh dill would also work great here. 


With the bruschetta sauce in a bowl and resting, remove the salmon from the packaging and give it a good smell to ensure that the fish is fresh and smells like……well, SALMON! I like to rinse the fish under cold water very quickly just to remove any potential scales or extra fishy juices. The next step is a very important to get a great golden color to your salmon. Take out a couple paper towels and completely dry off the salmon. It should not be shiny, but a matte color. Let the salmon sit for a couple minutes inside of some paper towels to soak up as much moisture as possible.  In the meantime, get your frying pan hot and ready. 

Season the salmon with salt and black pepper.

Remove the paper towel and season the fish with a bit of salt and black pepper.


Now that the salmon is prepped and ready to cook, add 2 tablespoons of your preferred cooking fat to the pan and allow it to melt and come up to temperature. Wisps of steam and smoke should be just starting to come up the sides of the pan. I like to use equal parts butter and olive oil, which in this case is 1 tablespoon of each (for 2 filets).  I do this for the flavor profile of butter and the high-heat cooking principles of olive oil. It’s a winning combination. 

Seared salmon with bruschetta topping about to go into the oven.

Place the seasoned fish into a hot frying pan and do not move it around. Don't play with the fish. Be patient and allow the fish to cook for 2 minutes before you try to flip it over. Hopefully, the fish will release naturally from the pan as it crisps and not stick. However, it may need a little nudge or two to get loosened up from the pan.  Flip the fish and add your desired amount of bruschetta sauce right on top of the fish. The sauce will bubble so just watch for some splatter.


Now that we have the Bruschetta topping on the fish, place the whole pan into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to allow the fish to cook and the flavors to really come together.

After the 10 minutes is up in the oven, remove the pan from the oven and top the salmon off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, lemon zest, fresh basil and balsamic glaze. You can eat this right out of the pan or serve it up with some freshly prepared asparagus or broccoli. Use the freshest available seasonal vegetable. It really makes a difference.  

Step 7: EAT!

This recipe for Roasted Bruschetta Salmon is fast, flavorful and easy to make.  Bursting with deep rich Italian flavor, you will love every saucy bite for its' deliciousness as well as the nutritional benefits it provides to the athlete in training. There are so many big bold flavors coming from the seared salmon, roasted tomatoes and salty parmesan, that I can't think of many ways that I'd rather end a hard training day.