Latin Ratatouille

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
10 large tomatoes, quartered
2 large red or yellow sweet bell peppers, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 or 3 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeds and stems removed, chopped fine (use 3 if you like things spicy)
2 medium eggplants cut into 2-inch chunks
4 medium zucchini squash (or 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash) cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 pound mushrooms, cut in halves
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large heavy stew pot, heat olive oil and sauté garlic and onion very slowly for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Add tomatoes, peppers, chiles, eggplant and cook uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to blend ingredients.

Add squash and mushrooms; mix in and cook 10 to 12 minutes more or until squash chunks are just tender, stirring occasionally to blend.

When done, add cilantro, then salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Let cool to allow flavors to blend. Heat slowly to serve and top individual servings with freshly grated cheese if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

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