Mistake #9 Not Matching the Right Sauce to the Right Shape
With over 350 noodle shapes ranging in size from large lasagna noodles and manicotti to tiny stars for soup, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide what sauce to pair with what pasta shape.
If you use a light sauce on large noodles, you’ll end up only tasting noodles. If you use a heavy sauce on small or light pasta, you’ll end up with a large pool of chunky sauce after you’ve eaten the last noodle.
The Fix—The Perfect Pairing
For pairing pasta shapes with sauces, the general rule of thumb is pair lighter, delicate sauces with smaller or finer pasta shapes. Pair hearty or chunky sauces with hearty pasta shapes.
Ribbon-type pastas, such as fettuccine, tagliatelle and papardelle pair nicely with cream sauces, hence the ubiquitous Fettuccine Alfredo. There is plenty of surface area for these silky sauces to cling to.
Light marinara and light seafood sauces pair well with long, tube-shaped pasta like capellini (angel hair), spaghetti and even linguine. Pair chunkier, heartier sauces such as primavera and Bolognese with hearty, short pasta shapes, such as rigatoni, penne, ziti.
For very small pasta shapes, such as stars and alphabets, it is best to serve them as part of a soup in a light broth.
I agree with most of what you said, but lately I’ve been doing the trick of using less water and sometimes starting in a cold pot as mentioned on SeriousEats.com. You end up with a higher starch percentage in the water, which helps your sauce. The only downside is that you have to be attentive when the pasta is put in the pot, you can’t just throw it in and go do other stuff.