If that expensive bottle of sun-dried tomatoes has been sitting, nearly full, in your refrigerator for almost a year, this is for you.
Here are enough ideas to finish off that bottle and perhaps inspire you to buy another.
First, sun-dried tomatoes have more uses than you might imagine. For example, they can be used as crackers.
Pat the sun-dried tomatoes very dry between sheets of paper toweling. If the two halves of the tomato are still attached, cut them in half. Arrange the pieces on a large serving platter and place an assortment of toppings on them. Crumbled pieces of roquefort cheese are great with sun-dried tomatoes as are small rosettes of an herb and garlic cream cheese -- such as boursin or alouette -- which are made by softening the cheese and piping it through a pastry bag fitted with a small star tube.
Hard cheeses such as swiss, gruye`re, cheddar, cotswold, and leyden, cut into small cubes, go extremely well atop a sun-dried tomato. Half an anchovy, rinsed under running cold water to remove the excess salt, and patted dry, then wrapped around a caper is also a good topping. Or, place a large piece of pitted calamata olive on a sun-dried tomato and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh oregano.
You can drain the sun-dried tomatoes and arrange them in a bowl to be placed on the cocktail table (next to a pile of small napkins) with several other bowls, each filled with a different kind of olive (perhaps black wrinkly Moroccan, green Spanish olives -- with their pits in -- and some tiny brown olives from Nice).
To serve sun-dried tomatoes by themselves, rather than as part of a dish, drain them (if they are not packed in a very fine olive oil) and cover with fresh olive oil to which you add a chopped garlic clove or two, some crushed dried rosemary and the grated zest of either half an orange or small lemon. Allow the tomatoes to marinate for at least two days before serving. (You can enhance most kinds of olives with the same technique.)
Sun-dried tomatoes are also excellent on some sandwiches. Try two on a grilled cheese with some bacon or on a sandwich of smoked chicken or turkey with watercress instead of lettuce. They can be chopped and mixed with a little oil and some oregano and parsley and used to moisten heros, hoagies, submarines and grinders.
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes can be mixed with either finely crumbled feta (which may be soaked for several days in many changes of cold water to remove excessive saltiness) or with a soft goat cheese and fresh herbs. Use this (mixed with a little butter) as a stuffing to be spread under the skin of a chicken breast before baking, or as topping to be sprinkled over saute'ed chicken or cooked mixed vegetables, which are then run quickly under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
Sun-dried tomatoes are always an acceptable garnish for a plate of cold sliced meats.
Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes to a host of dishes: to couscous for a little sparkle, to omelets with cheese and mushroom, to your next quiche -- almost any flavor will do -- or to a curried chicken salad.
And, like fresh tomatoes, they can be used in salad. Cut into strips with a serrated knife and tossed with arugola or watercress and some walnuts, they make a magnificent, robust salad. Dress the salad with a simple vinaigrette made with good olive oil, balsamic vinegar (another of those half-used items you bought last year) and a little salt and pepper.