A skillet, some lemon juice and olive oil, and some salt and pepper is all you need to make asparagus sing.

Margaret Eby
Updated: April 04, 2019

Every Saturday, as long as the weather is compliant and I have an hour to spare, I walk over to the farmer's market near my house to suss out which vegetables look good enough to be the lynchpin of my weekend meals. By this time of year, I'm tired of the apples and root vegetables that were on offer throughout the long, cold, grind of winter, and I'm on the lookout for harbingers of spring: fresh leafy greens, parnsips, and particularly asparagus

We're still a little ways off from asparagus season in New York City, but it doesn't stop me from dreaming about it, or from grabbing some at the grocery store when the bunches on display look good. And when I do, I almost always cook it in a method very much like this quick, easy recipe for skillet asparagus. It seriously takes less than five minutes, and it makes the fresh asparagus really sing. Plus, you probably have everything you need already on hand: salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon rind.

The easiest way to cook asparagus, and tender vegetables like it, is in a skillet. Cast iron works great here, but whatever you have will work fine. All you do is trim the asparagus ends, heat a glug of oil in the skillet over medium heat, add the asparagus when the oil is hot enough to shimmer slightly, and cook until they're just a bit brown on the edges but the inside is still crisp. Take it off the heat and shower in lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on some lemon rind just for kicks. 

If you like things a bit more spicy, adding some red pepper flakes would also go well here, as would some grated Parmesan cheese or pecorino. To make it into a meal, just add a fried egg on top of the asparagus. You could also crack the egg onto the asparagus as they're cooking and you have a version of Asparagus alla Milannese, a delicious Italian dish that also makes a great breakfast. It's the simplest way to cook asparagus for whatever you're doing. 

Get the recipe for Quick Skillet Asparagus