A splash of colour can bring a festive table alive. Include peas, beans, sugar snaps, snow peas and asparagus, or any combination you like.
Pesto 2 cups, lightly packed, basil leaves Pinch of salt 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 2 Tbsp pine nuts 90 ml (6 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 700g (1½ lb / 2 good bunches) asparagus 250g (8-9 oz) sugar snaps (or snow peas) 300g (10 oz) slim green beans 200-250g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Make the pesto several hours ahead. Put basil leaves, salt garlic and pine nuts in a bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With machine running, pour in most of the oil through the feed tube. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese by hand. Pour a little more oil over the top of the pesto, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2 Trim asparagus and green beans and cut into short lengths. Remove any strings from sugar snaps or snow peas. Pod fresh peas if using. Blanch each vegetable separately by plunging into a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook sugar snaps for 2 minutes and asparagus and beans for 3-5 minutes, depending on how you like them done. Cook fresh peas for 5-10 minutes, depending on their maturity. Drain and refresh vegetables with plenty of cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. The vegetables can be blanched up to 2 hours before finishing them off.
3 Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat. When hot, add tomatoes. Toss tomatoes in the pan for 30 seconds, letting them scorch a little bit, then transfer to a plate. Add beans, asparagus, sugar snaps and peas and toss gently together until nice and hot. Stir through pesto, transfer to a heated bowl and top with tomatoes. Serve immediately.