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Pasta is an Italian food made from a dough using flour, water and/or eggs.

There are approximately 350 different shapes of pasta. A few examples include spaghetti (solid cylinders), macaroni (tubes or hollow cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and lasagna (sheets). Two basic styles of pasta is dried and fresh. There are also variations in the ingredients used in pasta. The time for which pasta can be stored varies from days to years depending upon whether the pasta is made with egg or not, and whether it is dried or fresh. Pasta is boiled prior to consumption.

The word, pasta, can also denote dishes in which pasta products are the primary ingredient, served with sauce or seasonings.

There are many ingredients that can be used to make pasta dough. They range from a simple flour and water mixture, to those that call for the addition of eggs, spices and cheeses, or even squid ink to the dough.

Under Italian law, dry pasta can only be made from durum wheat semolina flour. This flour has a yellow tinge in color. Italian pasta is traditionally cooked al dente (Italian: "to the tooth", meaning not too soft). Abroad, dry pasta is frequently made from other types of flour (such as farina), but this yields a softer product, which cannot be cooked al dente.

Particular varieties of pasta may also use other grains and/or milling methods to make the flour. Some pasta varieties, such as Pizzoccheri, are made from buckwheat flour. Various types of fresh pasta include eggs (pasta all'uovo). Gnocchi are often listed among pasta dishes, although they are quite different in ingredients (mainly milled potatoes).
Published by Irene on Apr 13, 2008

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