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Any of several starchy food pastes (pasta alimentaria) made from semolina, the purified middlings (endosperm) of a hard wheat called durum. Pasta is traditionally associated with Italian cuisine, though it may have entered Europe from Asia during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. In making pasta, semolina dough is rolled out and sliced or compacted and forced through perforated plates (dies) that form it into the desired shape. It is produced in the form of sheets, ribbons, cords, tubes, and other shapes, each with its own name (e.g., spaghetti, macaroni). The formed dough is then dried under controlled conditions. Pasta is boiled and topped with a sauce or combined with other foods before serving.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pasta, visit Britannica.com.