I remember being astonished by friends in college who didn't understand how to make decent spaghetti. They thought you just boiled the pasta, and dumped the sauce out of the jar.
I think the sauce should be a meal unto itself. Piles of veggies and meat, and forkfuls of flavor. Friday night was spaghetti night when I went to visit my dad on weekends as a kid. And his sauce was basically 2 pounds of hamburger with some garlic, tomato paste and bay leaves. Yummy stuff, and it quickly became comfort food for me.
Ariel made something similar for me a year or two into our relationship. That night is still a memorable one, and looking back, I think it probably helped seal the deal for me.
Tonight I made spaghetti sauce, twice. Once for dinner, and another batch in the crock pot for the rest of the week.
The basics for good pasta sauce for me have always been pretty simple. You need a good base, good veggies, and meat. Over time, my list of veggies has expanded, and the process I use to cook everything has, too. I use store bought sauce as a base, since it's already pretty well seasoned, and it comes with a jar, which is great for storing leftover sauce. Given the amount of other ingredients that get added in, it's not uncommon for me to cook dinner, and have enough sauce left over to fill the whole jar, which can then go in either the fridge or freezer.
Next thing to go through the cuisinart was a couple of onions, chopped into chunks just small enough to go through the chute, to get sliced up. The sliced onion went into the pan, and got mixed up with the veg mix. I browned some sweet and hot Italian sausages, and chopped them up to go into the pan. I finished the whole mess by adding half a jar of store bought sauce, a few bay leaves, some tabasco, and some chili powder. I let that simmer for 5 or 10 minutes before starting to boil water for pasta.
By the time the pasta was fully cooked, the sauce was finished. Total time for the whole meal was something just under an hour, 30-40 minutes of which was spent actively cooking.