I’ve said before that extra virgin olive oil—the really wonderful, flavorful, murky stuff—shouldn’t be heated. I’m happy to change my stance on the subject in light of a surprising amount of evidence has recently been found to support cooking with olive oil—extra virgin olive oil in particular. The polyphenols (which give extra virgin olive oil its superior flavor), vitamin e, and stable monounsaturated fatty acids present in high quality extra virgin olive oil actually act as a buffer when heated. The polyphenols break down first, sacrificing themselves to protect the healthy fatty acids. What about regular olive oil? It’s certainly less expensive, but you really get what you pay for with olive oil. Regular olive oil doesn’t have the polyphenols (heat protection) or fatty acids (health benefits) of extra virgin olive oil. Unfortunately no matter what oil you use it will lose some of its flavor when heated. If you’re paying a lot for a really tasty oil, it’s best not to heat it at all. When I do cook with olive oil, I like to finish the dish with some cold oil to make sure the flavor is fully expressed. If you decide to cook with extra virgin olive oil (or any oil, for that matter), you should always avoid cooking it until the point of smoking.