plump spears (about 2 pounds) fresh white or green asparagus
extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
Several sprigs fresh rosemary
Several bay leaves, preferably fresh
Rinse the asparagus and trim the tough ends.
In a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, combine the oil, asparagus, salt, rosemary, and bay leaves. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of cold water, enough to cover the asparagus by about one-third. Cover.
Cook over high heat just until the oil and water mixture begins to sizzle.
Reduce the heat to medium and braise the asparagus, turning from time to time (leave the lid off or ajar -- by the time the asparagus is tender, the liquid should have cooked off), just until the vegetable begins to brown in spots, 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus). Serve immediately.