This recipe ended up being extremely handy, because I had all of the ingredients on hand, including the parmesan cheese and the fresh basil. Also, I only had to cut up one ingredient, garlic. The entire process from start to finish was about as long as it takes noodles to cook.
Bittman is really particular about the quality of the tomatoes- he says that if they aren't 'so good that you'd eat them like apples', it's not work making. He was also adamant about the freshness of the parmesan. I say malarky. I used parmesan from a tupperware, and canned tomatoes, and the result was still amazing. I wouldn't doubt that being more particular about the ingredients would improve the result, but as it was, this was one of my favorite things I've made out of Bittman so far.