Whole steamed artichokes have a natural elegance, but leaf-dipping can get messy. We’ve solved the problem by filling artichokes with a thick arugula pesto, which turns the de-choked centers into individual dipping bowls. Extra pesto can be served on the side or spooned over the artichokes as desired.
1. Bring 4 qt. water, lemon slices, and sea salt (if using) to a boil in large pot. Add artichokes, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 to 45 minutes, or until an outer leaf pulls off easily and base of leaf is tender.
2. Purée all remaining ingredients in blender until smooth.
3. Transfer artichokes from boiling water to bowl in sink under cold running water. Leave cooking water in pot. Place cooled artichokes on cutting board, and cut off stems. Carefully open leaves to reveal center chokes. Scoop out spiky chokes with small spoon, and discard. Return artichokes to cooking water 2 minutes to reheat.
4. Spoon 1/4 cup pesto in center of each artichoke, and gently open outer leaves. Serve with remaining pesto for dipping.