This is my favorite way to cook asparagus, and it can be served with almost anything. Leftovers can be used in salads and omelets.
For a little variety, you can add 2 garlic cloves in the beginning and/or 1 tablespoon drained capers at the end.
Happily, cooking asparagus is not time consuming. In fact, Roman emperor Augustus coined the phrase Velocius quam aspargi conquantur, meaning to something even faster than the time it takes to cook asparagus (which is really fast).
Peel the asparagus, if desired, and get rid of the woody ends by bending the spear by hand; the spot where it snaps is the perfect point.
2 to 2 ½ pounds asparagus, woody stems removed
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
Kosher salt and black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Place the asparagus, water, and olive oil in a large skillet and cook over high heat until the water has cooked off and the asparagus begins to lightly brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)