Food scientist Harold McGee's shared some controversial theories about cooking in olive oil. His conclusion was that heating olive oil, a potentially expensive option to other nut, seed, and vegetable oils, is probably not its best use as it can dilute or destroy the flavor. Recently, though, Chef Sara Jenkins publicly defended her frequent use of olive oil, especially in cooking. The people of the Mediterranean have been doing it for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and they are very well known for their food. In fact, it was the only fat used in daily cooking for many.
Chef Jenkins laments the way some restaurants avoid the flavor of olive oil or buy vegetable oil with olive oil added to minimize costs at the gustatory price of quality. She sees it as an integral and distinctive part of her cooking and takes pride in being able to help mitigate some of the confusion about olive oil's proper use versus other fats, such as butter.
There are some great tips for getting the most out of olive oil that Chef Jenkins provides. On the label, make sure that the oil is harvested and bottled at the same location. Also look to see that it is less than two years old. See if you can find any from the Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria or Puglia.
At the end of the day, the issue of oil is up to your personal tastes. Try seeing what tastes best to you with some recipes that use different oils and shortenings like, the Pan-Fried Cauliflower recipes or Fried Chicken with Yucca Salad.