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Slice 10 ounces cremini mushrooms and thinly slice 6 garlic cloves. Place both in a large, straight-sided skillet. Add 4 1/2 cups water, 12 ounces linguine, 1/4 cup pesto, 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Bring to a boil over high heat (this will take about 5 minutes). Boil the mixture, stirring and turning the pasta with tongs to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al dente and almost all the liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with fresh basil leaves. Taste and season with more salt as needed.