Place asparagus in a large plastic bag. Drizzle half the olive oil over the asparagus, seal the bag and shake until asparagus is coated evenly with the olive oil. If necessary, add only enough of the remaining olive oil to coat the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender or crunchy depending upon your preference, about 12 to 20 minutes.
Tips: (Shortcut chef) Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper as directed below and store in refrigerator until you're ready to bake it off. Get into the habit of spending 5 to 15 minutes prepping tonight or tomorrow's dinner during the day and you will be eating in more than out. The weight will come off quicker with home cooked healthful meals and you know it.
Tip: From mom's lips to your ears: You forgot to tell them to snap off the woody bottoms. Tell em to hold asparagus, one at a time, in their hands near the cut end and snap it like kindling. Mother Nature saw to it that the asparagus breaks in just the right spot, save the ends for stock.
Morph: Serve one other simple veggie side and a piece of oven baked fish such as salmon and dinner is all done. Cook off extra asparagus and throw it into a frittata, polenta, or pasta later in the week.
If the Queen's coming for dinner, toss cooked asparagus with fresh lemon, plate and garnish with thin curls of Parmesan.
Tip: Asparagus starts losing its sweetness the minute it's cut, therefore, as always, look for the freshest stalks possible. Skins should be smooth and bright colored with tightly formed heads.