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1. In a food processor, combine the basil, oil, garlic, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and process with on/off turns until the mixture begins to come together, then process until basil is finely chopped.
2. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Add the 1/2 cup walnuts and the cheese. Process about 30 seconds more or until the pesto is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in lightly salted, boiling water according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return pasta to hot pan along with the reserved cooking water.
4. Add pesto to the hot pasta; toss until well coated. Transfer pasta to a serving platter. Serve immediately.