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Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil and onion and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and translucent. Meanwhile, bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a pot or teakettle.
Once onion is translucent, add garlic, barley and sweet potatoes, cook, stirring regularly, for a few more minutes.
Pour in enough of the simmering stock to cover the contents of the pan and let simmer gently over medium to low heat, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. Alternately add liquid to cover, let it simmer to absorb and stir often for about 25 minutes. If you run out of stock, use water.
Once the barley is soft to the bite, but still al dente, stir in beans and lemon juice and let simmer for another couple minutes.
Turn off heat, stir in butter and cheese.
For the broccoli rabe, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove and discard the woody stem ends of the broccoli rabe, wash and dry then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Toss broccoli rabe with salt, pepper and oil until coated.