You'll need 28 ounces of canned plum tomatoes (unless you have fresh, then go for it), some olive oil, a carrot, and some onion and garlic, but you can even leave those out if you choose. I like to use a little basil and/or oregano, and hey, how about some white wine! It's optional, but it truly does put the joy in cooking.
Chop up your choppables and saute them over medium heat in a little olive oil. When the onion gets soft, you can pour in a little wine and watch it evaporate into lovely alcoholic steam. What does the wine do? I don't know—adds an air of sophistication I suppose.
When the (optional) wine's nearly gone, plop in those tomatoes. Rather than pouring the entire contents of the can into the saute pan, I ladle the tomatoes in and then add any liquid if necessary. That way, the sauce doesn't start out watery on you.
Use your wooden utensil to break up those tomatoes a bit. As they simmer on low heat, they'll start to break apart further and get "saucy" (as Bittman says). Add your herbs, salt and pepper, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or so. Make some pasta—it's almost time.
I like to blend everything with my immersion blender. You can use a regular blender, but don't do it when the sauce is really hot because painful tomato-based explosions may occur. And you don't have to blend it at all. I just like the way the flavors blam together upon blending.
Important: don't forget to sample the wine. It's your imperative as cook! Add sauce to pasta, sprinkle with romano or parmesan cheese, then sit back to absorb the compliments around the dinner table. That took about 15 minutes of your time—and now you're a kitchen stud.
More cooking excitement:
Let's make popcorn!
Let's make brandied loquats!