Sweet Peas, Carrots and Artichoke Stew

I just got few artichokes and for me it is hopeful sign that spring is coming.  Food historian maintains that the artichokes originated in North Africa and from there moved to east Mediterranean, where the Crusaders picked it up and spread it through Europe, including Italy.  Other food historian claim that artichoke originated in Italy and that the Crusaders took it Syria and Lebanon.Whatever the case, they are a very popular vegetable around the Mediterranean and are used in a variety of ways.  My favorite is the marinated artichoke that one finds in restaurants in Rome.  They are cooked, then left to soak in olive oil, lemon and garlic.  They are so tender that one eats every part of the artichoke -stems, leaves and the choke.The Roman marinade works only with tender baby artichoke which are hard to find and have very short season.The artichoke give this stew great flavor, texture and color.  If you use fresh artichokes, remove the leaves, the choke and steam the cups before using them in this dish.  If you can not fine fresh artichoke, use either frozen or canned artichoke cups or bottom.

Sweet Peas, Carrots and Artichoke Stewserves 4-61/4      cups olive oil1          medium onion, chopped1         pound white mushroom, sliced1        16-ounce can diced tomato3        tablespoons tomato paste1        pound frozen sweet peas and diced carrots, thaw6        artichoke bottoms6       cloves garlic, sliced1        jalapeño, cut in half1       cup chopped fresh cilantrosalt and pepper to taste-In small frying pan, heat couple tablespoons of the olive oil.  Sear the garlic for a minute.  Add the jalapeno and the cilantro.  Stir and cook for another minute.  Remove from the heat and set aside.-In heavy stew pot, heat the rest of the olive oil and sauté the onion for few minutes.-Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, 8 cups of water, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.-Spoon in the garlic cilantro mixture and bring back to a boil.  Adjust the seasoning, and then add the peas, carrot and artichoke.  Cover and simmer for ten minutes.  Remove from the heat and serve with rice or mashed potatoes.