photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 8 servings.

4 medium acorn squash
2 pounds bulk spicy pork sausage
1 cup chopped sweet onions
3 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
1 can diced water chestnuts, drained
1½ cups soft bread crumbs
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Halve squash lengthwise; discard seeds. Sprinkle inside of squash with salt and pepper. Place squash in a microwave-safe dish, cut side down. Microwave, covered, on high, 10 to 12 minutes or until squash is slightly fork-tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook and crumble sausage until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain sausage in a bowl lined with paper towels, and reserve 2 tablespoons of drippings.

Using the same skillet, heat drippings on medium heat, and sauté onions and celery for 5 minutes. Add water chestnuts, cranberries, and bread crumbs. Stir until bread crumbs turn light or golden brown. Stir in fresh parsley and add mixture to cooked sausage.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk; add to sausage mixture and toss until moistened. 

Turn over squash; fill with sausage mixture. Place stuffed squash onto baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.