"The pasta is the food."
Translation:De pasta is het eten.
Pasta is a de-word while eten is a het-word, so you'll always say de pasta instead of het pasta. Sadly, grammatical gender is just something you have to memorize in Dutch. There aren't usually any endings that tell whether to use de or het (sometimes there are), but with enough practice it'll come naturally enough.
It's very common for the same word to be a noun and verb in English too. Compare the following: I swim (v) every day. I go for a swim (n). I am running (v). Running (n) is fun. I need (v) sleep. I have a need (n) for speed. I speed (v) to work. His speed (n) was excessive.
Gerunds (-ing nouns) are not the only noun forms that match verb forms in English. It's just something that goes without thinking in one's mother tongue, and is startling in any other language.
The walk / I walk. The swim / I swim. The test / I test your reflexes. The game / I game the system. Even "the eats" is a little slangy, but it's english, too. ("good eats!")
I don't have stats on it, but I suspect it's more usual for languages to (originally) combine "Item and use of item" in this way, than not. Sometimes there are attached markers to distinguish the forms (remember, conjugations can go on nouns as well as verbs), but conjugation is often lost or simplified as a language develops. Other times, It's all about context or intonation, or whether there's an article associated with the work, vs a pronoun.
English is actually unusual in having extra words (often one derived from romance languages, and one from germanic roots) to separate out things like animal vs meat of the animal, and item vs use of the item.