Sometimes I can’t believe how sexy my food looks. Damn, I’m good.

And so were these. You know what they kind of tasted like? That artichoke-mayonnaise dip that everybody made for every party from 1997 through late 2000, remember that stuff? It also had parmesan cheese in it and you baked it and served it with Triscuits. Yes, even I brought it to a party once only discover that it was one of three identical offerings. Seriously, the stuff was everywhere.

But don’t let that deter you from making these wonderful shells. The flavors here are more subtle and more refined, thanks, mostly, to the lemon-ricotta bechamel.  And please don’t be intimidated by bechamel: You melt butter.  You add flour.  You cook briefly.  You gradually add milk.  You simmer until thick.  Seriously, that’s it.  Just because it’s got a French name doesn’t mean it’s out to mock you.

It’s also a completely satisfying vegetarian main dish that can be pulled off on a week night.  Throw some frozen peas around it and you’ve got a one-dish dinner (and some stunning visual contrast).

Heart-Stuffed Shells in Lemon Ricotta Bechamel is on page 125 of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and here, courtesy of Bon Appetit.  So…bon appetit!